Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy American Thanksgiving

An old bear from when our kids were small.
I stabbed all the fall florals into the waiting
Christmas tree after our Thanksgiving dinner;
I'll decorate the tree next week.
I'm thankful for many things today, especially family, friends, and meaningful work.

I'm making notes for the presenter at tonight's Thanksgiving feast (held at a friend's restaurant, the Bamboo Shack). Apparently, the USA is the biggest party nation and makes the most of celebrations. But other countries also celebrate Thanksgiving on different dates. We already celebrated our October harvest tradition, Canadian Thanksgiving - and last week we gathered the IES Bandung team and a few friends around the table for an early American Thanksgiving.

It's complicated, this crossing cultures and holding two passports. I say, celebrate everything. And cook a lot.

We're helping with the Thanksgiving meal by bringing 8 loaves of fresh bread. To make 2 small loaves, baked in little round !well-buttered! Pyrex dishes:
4 c flour
2 c water
2 tsp yeast
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar (optional)
Stir and let it rise. Then bake @425o for a half hour. It's done when it sounds hollow.
Cooling on the breadboard
Ibu A also makes 6 pumpkin pies for the dinner from 4 little sugar pumpkins a friend found in Lembang, the garden city in the hills above town. Oh the house smells good.
A dark tablescape at home
Monday and Tuesday
We have a few meetings in a row on Monday. Several people are away, a fact of life in Bandung where many people travel for business. And just like in Canada, when the weather changes, people get sick. Here it's a shift from Season 1 to Season 2: from dry and hot to wind and rain.

On Tuesday, I have to go to town. Locals say there is a "party street" where all kinds of decor is available. With several holiday events ahead, I find myself walking up and down a long stretch of they-weren'-kidding! toys, party supplies, and food stalls. It's a bit overwhelming for a first-timer.
The shop owner makes an employee pose
Wednesday
It's been months since I've had a girls' day out. Three of us gals go to town, starting with a visit to a little guy in the hospital. He has dengue fever but is recovering with the help of all the toys his visitors are showering on him.

We're checking out a new mall and Sandy exclaims that it feels familiar. The two of us are Canadian and it seems more like a Canadian than an American mall - spare and clean. Most local purchases are made in owner-driven shops but we have a few other malls in this city of millions.
I find these furry red 6" globes in the yard
One of the gals has lots of allergies, so she has a hard time finding something to eat. We wander around several floors and finally find a place in the food court. I find a mango juice vendor and then grab a bowl of spicy ramen nearby. (Next time, I'm eager to taste the dim sum at the Chinese restaurant! Oooh, touring past great restaurants when you're hungry is such a bad idea.)

After the mall, we stop briefly at an appliance discounter. Our guest would like to put a small microwave upstairs for her use and future guests, but the price is out of her reach. We walk back to the car for the short drive to the touristy art street. Doesn't every city have at least one of these?

We're not looking for art though. Tucked between the art stores, there's a porcelain factory outlet with dishes by Sango, Lenox, and others. Our guest snags a Spanish bowl ("thanks to God" or something similar). I find 3 fancy plates for serving holiday cookies or cakes: $6 for all 3. I resist the other tempting offers ...

In the evening, our guest is hard at work, hosting an informational event. I stay outside on the porch, watching the gate for over an hour after starting time. Traffic can be awful and four attendees are snarled in it. The group seems to have a good time and our guest is pleased at their engagement with her material.

Thursday
Holiday or not, today is catch-up day. I sort files, send notices, address a few cards, blog, and take time to say thanks to God for the abundance of his love and goodness.

Read more:
*O save your people, and bless your heritage; be their shepherd, and carry them forever. Psalm 28:9
*Jesus says, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” John 10:16
*I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge—God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1: 4-9 NIV
*Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15 NIV
Moravian Prayer: Good Shepherd, so often as a church we look to those outside our own community as “other.” May we let go of our pride and work together with all people so we will be one flock under your leadership. Amen.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Wind in our faces; clouds on the horizon

Friday, November 17, 2017
My 2 appointments are scheduled for 11 and 12:30. Or so I think. On my way to the first, I'm in the car with two others. Coworker Mandy is visiting from Jakarta but she has weekend plans and must return home. She tries to buy a train ticket after her overnight visit. Tee, our other guest, is helping her with transportation.


On the way down the hill, I get a WhatsApp message. My first meeting is postponed: the lady is ill. With WAs flying back and forth, we make new arrangements for Monday. Timewise, you need great flexibility here. Sometimes as a day goes by, plans seem to change hour by hour. Today's one of those days.

I was going to drop the women off at the nearest Indomart grocer, where online booking and payment is possible. But with the cancellation, I might as well wait in the car for them. (Since W's teaching in Malaysia, I can't help. I leave travel hacking and planning to him. I know none of the shortcuts he uses.)

The gals find it impossible to book a ticket online. Every train is sold out. They get all the way to pay and the machine crashes. So they try again. And again. No luck. I sit in the car for a half hour and catch up with emails, messages, and reading.

I also call a friend: does she want to ride along to the next meeting, which is on another hill? She tells me, "Actually, it is at 2:00. The lunch meeting last time was an exception." Whew, I thought we had to be there at 12 or 12:30. Good thing I didn't show up as planned.

That gives me some breathing space. When Mandy, Tee, and I finally head up the hill, I think I have time for a cup of tea with them. I want to hear what is on their hearts. Each gal works in a needy community and I want to know, "What God is asking you to do in Indonesia or around the world?"

Tee especially loves the Padma Hotel with its valley overlooks. (W and I seldom go there because it's so expensive.) The gals and I get dropped off and are seated at a table next to the wonderful view.

The two women hardly look up though. They're online for 2 hours, trying to book a ticket on the train, plane, or maybe a shuttle van, if nothing else? They call local friends for help because you need a certain debit card with a certain bank if booking a ticket online. (And you can't get that debit account without having a certain visa or being a citizen.) Oh my. It's complicated.

We drink tea and coffee, and Tee orders fries to share while they work. Finally, I tell them I have to leave by 1:00. And there's just one more call, just one more try ... and it's 1:10. They book a plane ticket for the morning: it costs under $20 to Jakarta.

For me, it's now or never. I have to get home. Mandy is as cold as I am from the wind and storms rushing over the valleys and hills. She comes back to the house with me. Tee stays to work on her studies and meet another friend.

I quickly change into something more dressy and make spaghetti for lunch. Then we go to get the neighbor, headed to a book group that's met for almost 20 years. Last month, they invited me to join them. They've read a book about North Korean defection. We talk about reunification, the identity of self, and how we can know the truth.

"What is truth?" asks one. Another says it might be what we learn and what we are told, unless we are curious and keep exploring. My belief is that ultimate Truth is what Jesus reveals about God.

Everyone talks and listens. The stimulating discussion rests on their longstanding friendships: they've met almost monthly for such a long time. They slip in and out of Indonesian and I learn a few new words.

The food is yummy. I haven't had such a large piece of cake (in this case, cheesecake) in ... forever? I eat the whole thing. Marjie is a fabulous cook and baker, everyone agrees.

It's almost 5:00 when I get home. The gals go out for supper and I tackle work. I get a call at 10pm. A friend has baked bread and is sending it across the city to our place by motorcycle. It takes the guy 20 minutes to arrive and then I read until almost midnight.

Saturday
The sun comes up about 5:30am so I'm awake. I lock the gate behind Mandy at 7:00 as she heads to the airport. Her flight is (of course) delayed, but at least she's there and ready to go.

I review a dissertation for one of our doctoral students. It's on the short side and missing some key things but so much closer to done. And then I review a book that the author hopes to use for his masters or doctoral research. I've been asked to write a recommendation.

Tee orders lunch for us from Miss Bee a few blocks away. A motorcycle brings it to the gate. Tee works through lunch upstairs and I work downstairs. I'm happy with my 16 oz tea mug, which gets refilled a few times as an excuse to stretch my legs.

Before it's "O Christmas Tree",
 it's 'Oh look, it's still autumn" 
The thunder and lightning is fierce today. The yard dog, who is scared silly of thunder, sneaks past me as I'm working in my office - his nails have been clipped this week, so I don't hear him go upstairs. He follows Tee around until she lets me know he's up there. I have to put him on the leash to bring him down. He crawls behind my chair and lies still until the storm has passed.

Inbetween, pings and beeps remind me of incoming messages and WAs. Everyone is connected online here - many people have several phones for different groups (work, family, friends). My one phone keeps me busy enough.

Occasionally, I get up and walk around. I put away the vases holding the fall silk flowers. I poke the bouquets into the undecorated Christmas tree. I like it enough to snap a photo. And I'm relieved to send off the two major projects by evening.

Read more:
*Then Hannah prayed and said: “My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance. There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. 1 Samuel 2:1-2  NIV
*Devote yourselves completely to the Lord our God. 1 Kings 8:61
*The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined. Isaiah 9:2
*Paul wrote: Who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 1 Corinthians 6:17
*Paul also wrote: Jesus Christ gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds. Titus 2:14
Moravian Prayer: Radiant Christ, you are the beacon of hope and the light in a world of darkness. Empower us to spread your light to others by feeding the hungry, giving clothes to the naked, and providing shelter for the homeless.
God of all things, every aspect of our lives can be an act of worship. Remind us to work, play, and serve in the joy of salvation so we can devote our whole hearts to you and experience happiness. Amen.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

THANKful

Sunday, 12 November, 2017
At 7:00am, two students are sitting on our teras. The traffic is minimal: they've arrived two hours before we've arranged to leave for the university. One of the confusing things about living here is time - people come early and late, seemingly at random.

By the time we leave at 9, the others have arrived: we're on our way to a student-led conference at the Adventist university an hour away. I speak for 45 minutes on crossing cultures to a room with 200 students. The translator is doing this for the first time - and she does a great job, assisted by the whispers of experienced professors on the first row.

The Q&A panel consists of an Indonesian who moved to Bandung for school, a Ugandan who is in his first of three years of a masters program, and a middle-aged woman in language school. The student questions and responses are enthusiastic.

We eat lunch together after a photo session - everyone wants a selfie with us. Lunch is yummy: vegetarian, of course. They hand me an envelope wtih a donation to a local women's shelter: how cool is that?

Monday - Wednesday
We are off to Jogjakarta for an organizational meeting. It is mid-island: 1 hour by plane and 8 hours by train or bus. We fly.
A military plane cruises across the crosswalk from the plane to the terminal
One of our colleagues presents his doctoral project and the national executives share their vision for the future. We eat some great food and meet some good people.
Someone snaps a quick picture at supper.
We're back in Bandung by Wednesday afternoon, stopping at the grocer on the way from the airport to home. Eggs. Check. Milk. Check. Butter. Check.

It's a relief to come into the house after travel. I unpack and set the suitcase to the side.

W lifts my Bernina sewing machine onto my desk. I match the pattern on 4 meters of printed batik fabric ($11 in Jogjakarta). It doesn't take much time to sew it into a big square and set it on the dining table as a tablecloth.

My favorite - and most relaxing - chore when having people over is setting the table. I think about and pray over our guests.

Thursday

We're celebrating Thanksgiving with our team. We're either early or late, depending on the passport. Canadian Thanksgiving falls around October 11 but the Americans will celebrate next week. W's off to teach in Malaysia then - so we decide to have our Thanksgiving a week early.

W brings down the Christmas tree: I'll be decorating this weekend. It makes me happy to see the empty tree standing near the entry.

Sadly, my favorite blue glass bowl from Bali is a casualty: it falls off the hutch while I prepare the room. It was a "first souvenir" of our first organizational trip 3 years ago. Smash ... and the beta fish lies on the tile floor. 
I walk to the kitchen, find a glass jar, and fill it with drinking water. The fish is flopping around but when I try to pick him up, I have no luck. I take a leaf and scoop him off the smooth tiles - he's so slippery that he is impossible to pick up without it. The fish is fine. The glass is gone!

The turkey has been submerged for a day in a plastic pail filled with salt water. I wonder in advance: "Will turkey smell as good cooking in this heat as in a cool Seattle kitchen?" The answer? Yes. Everyone brings food to share: sweet potatoes, beans, and more. The table will be groaning.

Mandy comes from Jakarta in the late morning and settles in upstairs. She's been up since 3am (had to catch an early train). She unwinds, relaxes, and greet people as they start to arrive.
Sweet talking
By the time I've cooked the stuffing, planned the timeline for the menu, and sorted out help, it's almost 3:00. Everyone has chipped in with food so we start with a salad while it is put into serving bowls.The house is soon noisy and full of life - we have 11 at the table tonight.

We prove Josue's theory of "two stomachs: one for savory, one for sweet" by eating the enormous feast and then having a piece of pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Leftovers and cookies disappear into doggie bags, to be enjoyed later.
Whipped cream and cookies ...
On a ribbon of paper, we write a few lines of what we're grateful for, before sharing that around the table. Then we pray our gratitude to God: what a pleasure to share good food and time with friends.

Indonesian-style, we line up for a selfie before hugging and saying goodbye to those going home. I am thankful tonight.

Read more:
*I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! Job 19:25-27 NIV

*Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Isaiah 60:3

*Jesus said, “Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” Luke 13:30
Moravian Prayer: Our Lord Jesus challenged the status quo when he dined with tax collectors and embraced those who society rejected. God of grace, inspire us to extend love to all, especially those who are marginalized. Amen.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Medan: island hopping

"Hmmm. What?" or should it be, "Oh oh, what now?"
Work in progress: a storm on my desk
before the calm in my head.
Life overseas is flexible. How much we enjoy a new culture depends a lot on our attitude. Many of our friends say, "We could never do what you do." That may be true. It's been a week of structured events combined with the unpredictable.

Wednesday, November 3, 2017
It's movie night again - which means a lot of cooking and baking at the beginning of the week. By the time the dinner hour comes, the food is out and 70+ guests have arrived. We eat, talk, and watch a movie together.
The kitchen lineup
There's a lot of noise and happy chatter. The students and young professionals love having a place to eat and talk about life. They seem to enjoy "A Field of Dreams" (a Costner oldie) and then discuss ways to redeem the past.
Talk, laugh, and talk some more
A waterfall backdrop to a beautiful jungle walk
Thursday
I can barely drag myself out of bed, but when we're in town, the weekly walk in the hills is a necessity, not a luxury. We go up and down for 5 miles (8 km) and then have lunch together.

Sunday - Tuesday
We've had guests off and on all week. W has been fighting the flu or a cold since he got back from the last trip over a week ago. He has to cancel his theology class at church: tomorrow he starts a 40-hr class at a local seminary. He'll need his voice for that. I rested most of Saturday, so the presentation for next week starts to gel. I finish the PPT and W uploads a short clip (instructional video) into it.

W is teaching from 8-5 most of the week, so the Monday study and a few other things he usually does roll into my days. For my trip coming up, it's vital to finish prep and make sure my material is loaded. A one-hour presentation plus travel means 3 days away from home: there's a lot to arrange before I leave.

Wednesday
We leave the house at 7:30. W gets dropped off at the seminary, where students are eagerly awaiting him. The driver takes me a few more kilometers to the airport and hoists my suitcase up the front steps. It's lightweight until I fill it with snacks - gifts for the university committee who has invited me to speak at an international conference.

My heavy computer/book bag is slung over my shoulder as I surrender the snack-packed suitcase to young men at the "plastic wrap" station. A little carousel turns while the luggage is encased end to end with plastic wrap. Then the guys lift the suitcase upright and wrap it side to side. The wrap prevents the snacks from disappearing before the other end of the trip.

The flight leaves an hour late and is bumpy, but I don't mind. Clouds feel like gravel or pot-holed roads and we're used to those.

A Thai professor who specializes in glass (optics, alternatives for crystal lasers, fiber-optic boosters, etc.) is on the same flight. He's also speaking tomorrow. We meet in the lobby, introduce ourselves, along with the department head from the university who takes us for lunch. (Since it's after 2pm, is this slunch - supper-lunch?)

We arrive at the hotel by 4:30 and meet up again in the lobby at 6:00, waiting for a few Thai students until almost 7:00. Supper is delicious - local food with the zing of hot spices. I love it, though I can feel my stomach churning a bit as it digests the chili peppers.

"Have you spoken at an Indonesian conference before," the organizer asks.

Have I spoken at conferences? I reply: "Yes to speaking. But in Indonesia, not yet." I have no idea what to expect, so am open to whatever happens. I've been asked to present for 40 minutes. No worries: I've prepared enough material, which I'm excited to share tomorrow.

Traditional Batak weaving
Thursday
I go over my notes before heading to the hotel ballroom where the seminar is being held. I am waved toward the restaurant for a complimentary breakfast. "Please go eat. Be back in 20 minutes?" asks the organizer.

Sure. It's 20 minutes past starting time and people are still trickling into the room, chatting in the lobby, and signing in. (Almost 9:00 by now, though check-in was 7:30-8:30.)

The conference begins an hour after the posted time. Opening greetings, a prayer of blessing by the vice-rector (campus imam), traditional dances of welcome, plus welcoming speeches by dignitaries. The speakers are called to the front to be draped with traditional woven cloths and then we pose for photos with some university leaders.

The first speaker gets 40 minutes for his slides and presentation. He must be a good professor: I want to go to his science class by the time he finishes. The deans come up to shake hands and present him with a memorial gift (more photos).

My PPT has been transferred to a computer at the media table. I open my laptop at the podium so I remember what's coming ... and begin. The moderator rushes over after 3 slides: I've got a remote control at the podium. I should click it. Ugh. Forgot about that. So I click through to where I'm at in the presentation: 40 minutes is not that long.
Traditional welcome dances by student performers
I have a 1-minute video embedded in the PPT. Oh-oh. First, it appears without sound so I synch the track from my laptop into the mike. Partway, the media team figures out the sound so we restart. Then we play the clip again, as planned with a translator. She speaks Indonesian over the loud English track until the volume is adjusted. Oh well. Value added? Maybe. (Lesson learned: skip the video slide if the PPT is remote.)

About 25 minutes into the speech, the moderator interrupts with a 2-minute warning. Time compression! I flick through a few more slides and am done. Gift presentation, smile, and photos. Sit down and sip tea, refilling the cup from my Contigo thermos a few times. The other two speakers similarly have their time shortened. We're behind the clock enough that their gift presentations and photos are postponed until the lunch hour.

I talk with several lecturers over lunch. The food is too spicy for some of the people at the table but I love it. My favorite is a kind of rendang (beef stew steeped in a sharply spicy sauce.) I'm headed to my room by mid-afternoon, grateful for quiet time. I read over my notes for the seminar I'm presenting at a Bandung university on Sunday ...

Friday
Unexpectedly, the hotel restaurant is open early = before 6am. Last night, I requested takeaway nasi goreng (fried rice), one of two options on the free breakfast for travelers. I couldn't understand what the other option was - so rice it is.

But now I'm standing in front of a table of fruit and bubur ayam (chicken porridge - mushy rice slow-cooked, which I love!). The server hands me an empty box. Bubur it is!, with a slice of mango and a teeny croissant. And then the server comes from the kitchen with a full box of fried rice, too.
Sweet drink with shavings of coconut and brown jelly
The driver is late picking up the lecturer who wants to accompany me to the airport. She texts me that they are on their way. "Don't worry. We will be on time for the flight."

I'm flying home today - and the plane leaves at 9:00. The airline is usually late leaving so no worries. I relax in the clean hotel foyer. (We don't take clean for granted here.)

When I stroll to the piano, a manager hurries over and says, "You cannot play. This is for the night musicians." Indeed, someone played and sang last night. Ok. I sit quietly in my chair eating bubur and fruit. I'll leave the nasi takeaway with the driver when we get to the airport.

Airport companion
The lecturer riding with me is a sweetheart. She spent 6 months in Illinois for doctoral work and has an interesting story. Her English is excellent. She accompanies me to the check-in counter and all the way to the gate.

Boarding is on time, down a normal flight bridge to the plane ... but wait! Why are a few people headed straight ahead to a plane while a few others have gone disappeared down an unmarked stairway off to the side of the bridge?

I pause with 2 others and ask, "Which way to the airplane to Bandung?"

Someone points the way. Down the side stairs. Whew. Glad I'm not headed somewhere else on the "obvious" flight.

At the base of the stairwell, I cram onto a bus with about 60 others. We're whisked to the plane, which is parked in a vast lot. Three more busses disgorge passengers to the plane in the next half hour. We leave on time. Wow! Great.

The plane is full of babies and shouting little kids. My earplugs block the loudest shrieks and I fall asleep before we leave the runway. By the time I wake up, we're over the ocean and most "littles" have fallen asleep or subsided.

I'm surprised that I even notice the racket. Maybe it's because an earplug fell out of my ear - and it's quickly jammed back in. As a previous parent of 4 toddlers and now a grandmother, my auditory blocking skills are well-established. Noisy kids are the responsibility of others and I can ignore what I can't coax away.

Lunch is served: cookies and water to tide us over
on a 3.5 hour delay
When we get to Bandung, the captain announces that there's a severe thunderstorm over the city. We circle for an hour before flying to the next airport for refueling: Jakarta. We sit on the tarmac for another hour, waiting for the storm to pass. And then we lift off - and land in Bandung without difficulty. Our 2:20 flight has taken 6:30. We are disgorged and our luggage is rushed to the carousel.

The driver gets W from school and comes to pick me up as well. I ask W about the weather. They had gushing rains and lightning. I'm grateful for careful pilots and traffic controllers who put passenger safety first.

When we're almost home, we park at the side of the road: the driver hops out to walk home. The rain has been so bad all week that he didn't bring his motorcycle this morning. W continues driving to Bumi restaurant, where we usually eat with our class on Sundays.

I just want something familiar ... and to relax. We try beef roll-ups and crooked potatoes. What's that? I have just enough adventure left in me to want to know. Turns out, it's potato croquettes (mashed and breaded potatoes, Dutch style). I'm happy to walk into our home door at 6pm, unpack, and read a few pages. I'm fast asleep by 7:30.

Saturday
We head to a coffee shop at 8am to meet the pastor of a local church. He is a joy to talk to: his dream is to encourage young and old to lead their own groups. The company is as good as the food and hot tea at Benne Cafe this morning.
Every sidewalk seems to become a market on Saturdays
Indonesia has required that all cellphones SIMs are registered. W registered ours at a shop a few weeks ago. However, we get a notice that it has not gone through (no reason given), so we'll have to register in person - at another office. The young woman helping us is efficient and friendly. We are done in no time, and back outside by 11:00.
A peek in the doorway of a snack shop
I head home with a Grab driver and W keeps going to town to run errands. There's a complete downpour in the afternoon: W is in the rain but I listen to the splattering of water on the roof from a comfy perch with my computer in my lap.

Read more:
*Jeremiah said, “For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?” Jeremiah 8:21-22
*Jesus says, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31-32
*All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind,  but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.

My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?  My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. James 3:7-12 NIV

*Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped. Revelation 5:11-14 NIV

Moravian Prayer: Healing Christ, you are the great physician. Give us the strength to admit our brokenness and come to you so that we might be made whole through your love. Amen

Monday, October 30, 2017

Slow-moving road

In a bowl on the porch, a beta cruises around
W's home - and that means reentry into our routines. Initially it's a jumble when one person leaves - there's the scramble for a new normal to cover what we normally share. When the person comes back, we have to adjust our routines again.

I think we're almost there with tasks and meals. I eat when I'm hungry when W is away but have to get back to 3 meals when he is hungry. The simplest things are the biggest transitions.

I'm also a light sleeper like most women my age, so as W adjusts his jetlag to our time zone, our nights can be interrupted. Yup, it's 1:00am now and I'm wide awake. He's only been back for five nights so we ought to get our sleep patterns synched soon.

Wednesday, October 24.17
Tuesday leaves for Jakarta on the train. She'll fly out tomorrow night and be back in a few weeks. The helper changes her bed, cleans the room, and washes and irons T's clothes, putting them away for the next trip. 

I thank God for IbuS as I'm crushing through academic information. I have to make a few presentations next month. Every time we teach or speak, it takes hours (days/weeks) to sort information and prepare notes and visuals. It's fun to keep learning, but some days it feels like endless homework. I'm weary by the time I fall into bed.

Thursday
Instead of our usual energizing walk in the hills, it is a day in traffic. Pak E arrives before 6:00 to pick me up for the gauntlet to the Jakarta airport. W is arriving from a trip abroad and wants to meet me there. I sleep for an hour in the car right off the bat: it's been a short and restless night. After a fitful snooze, it's time to get to work.

The new pavement on the freeway is too bumpy to write things down. Weaving in and out of traffic, the side to side movement makes concentration difficult. I try for three Morning Pages, but give up after two: I couldn't read what I'm writing if I tried. So I sort emails, read a backlog of blogs, and respond on FB.

After 5.5 hours, we've occasionally achieved the blazing speed of 50mph (80km/hr) but mostly crawled or had stop-and-go traffic. It's slow enough that food and trinket-sellers wander between the cars.

We get lost in the maze of roads to the new terminal. "Consider it a tour, sir, so let's not worry. We have time." We've gone just under 200 km as we arrive at the airport. (Can you tell I dislike being cooped in the car?)

I hop out, excited to see my husband after 2.5 weeks apart. Except that, instead of being 20 minutes early as per airline app, the flight is late and there's nothing to do in the new terminal. I sit, write, and watch people, hoping not to miss W as he arrives at the other end of a vast waiting area.

I get a text that a friend is in the terminal somewhere. We find each other: W's brought an extra suitcase along for him. After greetings and a chat we see W emerge. He passes off the luggage and we wait for the driver to find us. Pak E has to make a series complicated turns to get from one floor to the next in the parking garage. Ah, there he is ... he's found us.

We stop for a quick lunch in a mall beside the toll road: it's 2pm and I'm hungry, though W's eaten on the flights and has little appetite. There's a glitzy red-foiled sports car in front of the mall. Someone want to be noticed. We snap a few pictures of its startling glow, and then it's back on the road.

I'm delighted to pull into our driveway at 7:30pm. It's been a very long day.

Friday and Saturday
Chores, preparations, unpacking, cleanup, cooking. The days fly by with visits, curriculum updates. I'm delighted to put a wool rug from MT under my desk. I'll curl my feet into it just as I did at our cabin - the physical touch is grounding as I read textbooks and process info for classes and studies.

Sunday
I'm leading service again - and enjoy it as usual. It's fun to see a few youngsters join the worship team.

We head for lunch after W's theology class.The restaurant has opened a new gate directly across from the church gate so we walk across the lawn to pavement (there's no continuous walkway yet) and meet friends for lunch. One of our guests is a new arrival from Africa, studying at a local university on an Indonesian scholarship. His monthly food and rent stipend is about $200.

In the late afternoon, we get a call that a neighbor has died. Would I like to come along to express condolences to the family? Another neighbor accompanies me to the house, where the body has arrived from the hospital via ambulance. Women from the local mosque wash the body, tie the chin, and then wrap it in batik, cotton batting, a white sheet, and over it all,  tie a bamboo wrapper with white ribbon. Children, teens, and adults sit nearby, watching the process which is part of life here.

Islamic burial must take place within 24 hours, and the time of death was 3pm. It's a new experience for me to see how the community rallies around the family. Flowers and food are ordered for the next day, a time is set for burial (9am tomorrow), and prayers and sympathy are offered. My friend and I stay for less than an hour and then it's dusk. We walk home together.

The neighborhood is full of cars. "Can we park in front of your gate?" the security guard asks, getting up from sitting on his haunches. "We are running out of room for parking."

It's also the 40th day after the death of Dr Alfred, our former landlord. His family and friends of his widow and children are singing and praying Roman Catholic rituals for his soul in the next house over. Indonesian tradition includes a quick burial, then notes Days 3, 10, 40, 100, and 1000 as memorials. Different rituals are customary for each one to remember the person who has died.

Monday
I get the usual early start to the workweek with a 7:00am meeting online (so refreshing it "feels like I've been to church," says an attendee), then our interesting study of Luke at 9:30. People start arriving at 8:45. We move directly upstairs aferward for a team meeting and lunch until 1:30pm.

I check the freezer to see what food we still need for movie night on Wednesday. W posts the announcement on the WA list: within a few hours, we have 80 guests signed up. That's our limit. In the rainy season, we often have 20% fewer people than signups. The downpours deter those on motorcycles. Regardless, that's a lot of cooking!

At the grocer, I start to fill my cart. PING. My phone say two young women from a nearby university are waiting for me ... but they're at a shop way up the next hill. We'd exchanged WA texts in the morning about possibly meeting at the grocer in the afternoon. I hadn't heard back.

The gals find their way down to the grocer on a motorcycle taxi and we meet for half an hour. Decided: I'll be picked up from home at 9am on the day of their conference. My session is at 10:30. 1.5 hours should give us plenty of time to get to the university, right? It's 1 km away (as the crow flies) across the valley to the next hill. It will be a 5km trip down and back up in weekend traffic - which may take us an hour or more.

I ditch plans to shop at another store. Traffic is slow today. I'm happy to get home after 4pm. I send PR pics and a profile for the conference poster, do some more research, cook supper, and then relax for a few hours before bed.

Tuesday
I check my watch: 2am. Time for a second sleep. Morning comes early - the yard guy will be here at 7am and the lady who will help cook and bake for tomorrow comes at 8. Get to sleep!

Read more:
*May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
 May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.
May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings.
 May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.
 May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all your requests. Psalm 20:1-5 NIV

*I will do more good to you than ever before. Then you shall know that I am the Lord. Ezekiel 36:11

*Paul wrote: God did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Romans 8:32

Moravian Prayer: God, thank you for loving us so much that you were willing to sacrifice your one and only Son. Give us the grace we need to trust you even more knowing that your promises to us are, yea and amen. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Think on these things

Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Yesterday we studied Luke 12 together - the God of provision provides for us. (See the passage below.) He cares for even the smallest creature, like these 3" moths who are resting on the wood siding of our house.

We do a takeaway as we wrap up each time we study. I hear the relaxation in our voices as we commit to trusting God; he will care for our needs and decide for/against our wants. (Surely he knows better than we do what will serve him and the world best!)

The other thing we decide is to write down one thing to: "think on these things," as the writer of Philippians 4:8 says. So I'm passing this assignment along as my challenge to you.

  • true
  • honorable
  • just
  • pure
  • lovely
  • commendable
  • excellent
  • worthy of praise

What will you think about today?

Read more:
LUKE 12:22-31 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 
Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 
And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his[e] kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
Prayer of thanksgiving: Thank you, God. We are never out of sight to you. You watch over us, care for us, and tenderly, persistently coax us into a relationship with you. We live in your loving presence, knowing that you are a Good Father to all. Help us to be mindful and thankful today. Amen.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Creativity and learning galore in a working week

Sunday, October 15, 2017
Sunday means rest and restoration. But usually, it starts with a lot of people gathering in community. We love the family of God.
Two jambu air (water apples) from the backyard tree dress up a tray.
The African tablecloth under the tray was given to me in 1972.
Since W is traveling, Tuesday and I walk to lunch with friends instead of inviting his theology class to Bumi Sangkuriang. After, it's a relief to sink into bed for a nap, especially after a demanding week of teaching in Jakarta.

Monday
We have a good group for the study again. Claudia finds creative ways to make us think about scripture. It's hard to wrap up: everyone enjoys meeting so much.

Since the two guys on our team are traveling, we four women decide to have our weekly meeting over lunch at Wild Grass. The restaurant opens their conference room upstairs for us. It's lovely to share life, updates, and prayers.

Wednesday
Tuesday has stayed overnight at a hotel down the hill. Yesterday about noon, Ibu S cleaned the mold out of the drain of a bathroom. The mold was bothering Tuesday's allergies, but her body also reacts to the diluted bleach used to clean, even after multiple rinses and nine hours of airing the house. Off she goes: she knows what her lungs can bear.

Today, she is writing and decides a perch at the Padma cafe would suit her just fine. I join her for lunch with a stunning view.

Both of us are startled when a business retreat arrives: the moms and dads are registering and looking after their luggage. Meanwhile, their children quickly clamber out onto the lobby windowsill, overlooking a 4-storey drop. (Can you see their little feet, hanging into space in the center top windows?) Their nannies ignore them, except for one gal who lifts a three-year-old girl back to safety. Eeek. We can hardly watch.

Indonesians look out for themselves, for the most part. There's no railing, though there is a 4' ledge below the windowsill that might keep a child from dropping straight down.

I catch a ride home in the rain, while Tuesday stays to work until late afternoon. In rainy season, we have at least one downpour each day. This one's a gusher. I'm preparing two seminar presentations. To work! to work!
Tea plantation worker with shrub trimmer

Thursday
After many weeks of work and missing the walk, I'm glad to rejoin the Thursday Walkers. We count on this long weekly walk as a detox for our bodies, esp when we're sitting at a desk, in meetings, and in the car day after day.

Friend Alice joins us on her first walk. "Look out - this is addictive (if the heat and humidity don't kill you.)" We don't have coordinates for starting the walk, so we set off on the flat side of a hill in a tea plantation ... and almost immediately run into a valley without bridges. Instead of heading down the road to the next level fields, we cross to the other side. I've seen the up-and-down on that side and am a bit reluctant. The rule is that the group stays together at all times. Over we go.

We make multiple stops and starts, using GoogleMaps to redirect us. After 4.5 miles and 2.5 hours of up and down, circling and backtracking, we end up at Gracia hot springs for lunch and a soak of tired muscles.

In the evening, Tuesday and I go through supplies left by our Canadian children's team. She objects to using non-sustainable art supplies: the trend is to source local materials that can be replicated. I'm fine with using whatever: my whole life is flow - someone brings something, parks it, and voila, there it is when we need it. Since it's the night before, Tuesday hunts down what she needs in our storage area.

Then I put together the PPT for the lesson coming up.

Friday
I'm teaching a high school religion class this morning. It's normally W's weekly pleasure to teach theology there. Since we were both gone last week, Josh and Clau did it with verve and creativity. The kids not only learned, but had fun doing it!

This week, I've enlisted Tuesday, Claudia, and Alice to help teach about God the Creator and humans made in his image - as creators.

When she arrives at the house, Ibu S fills 45 tiny plastic bags with 2 green wrap ties, 2 red wrap ties, a tissue, and 2 toothpicks. What can the students make with that? We'll see.

On the way to the school, we stop for additional art supplies. It's a bit nervewracking for this German: I'm used to planning and sorting ahead of time. We barely make it into the classroom before the students arrive. However, the teens seem attentive this morning and they love the projects.
As they arrive, we give each student one little bag. They're settling in and need something to keep their hands busy and start to focus their minds, right?

"Make something," I encourage them, and watch for a few minutes. Some have a hard time imagining what they could make. I dump the contents of a bag onto the counter and quickly twist the contents into a ballerina with a tissue dress, toothpick legs, and wrap-tie arms holding an umbrella, made from the tiny plastic bag. The pupils catch on, creating flowers, lollipops, figures, and other fun creations.
A tissue flower, enhanced by a student's markers
I talk about the eternal God, creator of heaven and earth and humans. Then Tuesday guides them in an "Identity Project." The students draw a line down the middle of a blank sheet of paper. On one side, they draw themselves or put words describing how they see themselves. On the other half, they display how God sees them. 
Some use colored pencils or the crayons and markers that Tuesday provides. Others cut up the scrapbook paper, using scissors, glue, and other materials left by our Canadian friends. (You know who you are. THANK YOU again.)

After I deliver a second set of information, students choose wire or leather loops and beads. Each custom bracelet is unique, though the students use similar materials. Each person reflects the creative God, who made us in his image and with his attributes.

These experiences always teach me something about the nature of God and people. As a teacher, I need to continually be learning, too.

While Tuesday heads to a hospital visit, Alice and I drive two hills over for lunch and a book review. For 20 years, 12-13 distinguished and accomplished women have met to read a book a month. For the first time, I've been invited to join. Each month, one person chooses a book and offers her interpretation of the author's intentions. Then there's a lively discussion. Fascinating to see how every woman's worldview and experiences shape her perception as a reader.

One of the doctors is celebrating her birthday. Someone gifts her with an orchid whose name is the same as hers. Others bring warm wishes and tasty food. The birthday girl cuts the top off the rice cone (tumpeng) and the feast begins.

Traffic is hideous on the way back. We crawl through the streets and get home about suppertime. Tuesday is on her own stop-and-go journey. She loves Miss Bee because their food doesn't set off her allergies: what a relief. (Even with instructions, our helpers might add sugar or other allergens so they're not cooking for T.)

It's my third meal at Miss Bee with Tuesday this week. The staff knows W and me since we take Western guests there for clean food that doesn't upset the stomach. The servers joke with me that it's starting to feel like home cooking, isn't it?

Saturday
In the morning, before I tackle other work, I cut an old shower curtain into 3 parts and sew them. 2 little curtains cover the gaps under the ancient sinks in the bathroom. One long strip hides the aging glass beside the shower door. When I do a little art or crafting, my mind clears up, ready for serious thinking. To work! to work!


Sunday
Church starts at 9:00. Tuesday and I walk over early. The music is lively and draws us into worship. During the collection, some teens accompany the singer.

It's really fun to see young people participate in a service. I played for church at 13 or 14 years of age, too. Informal beginnings develop versatile musicians who can play in any venue, large or small. In one church, I was the orchestra pianist. We had hundreds or thousands in each weekend service - and multiple services. I marveled at the opportunity to play, hour after hour as new people streamed into the building. (A concert pianist would be thrilled to play for so many, week after week, right?) Most accomplished musicians have started small, where people accepted our stumbling beginnings and mistake-fraught middles.

Tuesday is the main speaker for the service (and knocks it out of the park). Afterward, there's a lively Q&A about her work. A group has come along to raise funds for disempowered women. We gather around a table heaped with silk and canvas after service.
3 brightly patterned scarves


We marvel at the beautiful fabrics, sewn into tote bags, scarves, and purses. They'll make wonderful gifts - but I buy some for myself, too.

Three friends and I purchase the same blue and white tote. When I get home, I add one dab of color with a Sharpie marker. A touch of yellow on one side and orange on the other. It's surprising how such a little addition customizes the bag.
"Just a dab will do ya" - a touch of orange
A few of us gather for lunch at EatBoss down the hill. The food is reasonably good and cheap. An avocado juice and chicken steak costs $3.50, including tax and tip.

Read more:
*Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Psalm 96:2
*Now begin the work, and the Lord be with you. 1 Chronicles 22:16
*Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” Luke 5:5
Moravian Prayer: Loving Father, we put our trust and confidence in you knowing that you have our best interest at heart. We know that whatever we do and wherever we go, we can depend on you. With grateful hearts we will follow your commands. Bless us with your knowledge and power we pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.