Saturday, December 9, 2017

Worth the wait

The week slips by in relationships and food shares.

In KL airport: a wall-to-wall sign for the nursing room
beside one of the mosques
Wednesday, 6 December: St. Nicolas Day and, 'It feels like Christmas.'
I think I'm saving time by having pizza delivered - and I've done enough cooking and hosting this week and. Nothing is certain: will it be ready at the right time? So W is a bit anxious about what will arrive when. We have someone delivering it in two shifts - the first 8 "1-meter pizza" (each delivered in 2 boxes) at 6pm and the second when he can get back down the hill at 6:20pm.

There are sOOOOso many boxes, and they're here on time. Some of the guys go out to help bring them into the house. They sit stacked and heaped on the stove while three of us cut the huge pieces in half and put them out. Everyone piles in to eat after we say grace at 6:30.

People keep coming. Probably 80 show up tonight. Cool!
The loveliest part for us is sharing our family traditions with our growing local "family." We have a motto at movie night: "First time, you're a guest. Second time, you're friends. Third time, you're family!"

We overhear the students tell each other, "Today is my third time. I'M FAMILY!" It's a big deal. And they give us a hug - I'm their mom from here on in. They're more shy with W, but they swarm him to talk. We've really grown to love them and taken them into our hearts.

After supper, we read the Christmas story from Matthew and Luke. My friend wrote an 11-part script that we've shared with family and friends since the 90s. We skip the carols between (for example, the Magi reading is in 2 parts, followed by We Three Kings). We 'll sing the carols and do the readings again at our open house on Christmas Day. Today, we pass out the script and whoever wants a part reads it aloud.

Then we watch Miracle on 34th Street and talk about what we believe after the fairytales of our childhood are over. It's a lively bunch tonight. Everyone is in a festive mood - some are graduating in a week or two, and except for the high school kids, are done with projects and exams.

Dessert at intermission? IbuA has been baking each time she's been here this month. She puts the last cookies from the freezer onto two trays. She's set them out for study groups, our team Thanksgiving, our Thanksgiving brunch, and everything between.

"Ibu, that's all. I think I have to bake some more," she says. Earlier today, she made a double recipe of peanut butter cookies. Good thing! All but a dozen (of everything) is eaten tonight.

Later, when the movie is over and conversations are in full swing, I look around the room. What a wonderful mix! Old and young, all faiths and atheist, from many islands of Indonesia, from Australia, USA, Iran, Europe, Philippines, Thailand, Malasia, Uganda, China, Singapore ... we're all talking, laughing, and thinking aloud together.

The last ones wave goodbye just before midnight. W and I lock up and fall into bed. He's dead asleep - but it takes me an hour or two to unwind.

I'm supposed to be studying. But I can hardly think. I catch up on other things, set the house in order with W and the helper - who comes an hour later than usual because of last night's late hour - starts to bake.

Then she sits down to cut 2 huge bunches of bananas for the freezer (we used up our frozen mango with fresh papaya, bananas, apples, and pears with yoghurt and a can of fruit cocktail to augment the baking). She shakes her head, "I feel like I'm a bakery worker, but I love baking." She cools them and then fills three square Tupperwares with cookies, storing them in the fridge.

I hear our Roomba 650 buzzing around. When it stops, I plug it back into the charger and an hour later send it back out. It has been a lifesaver. W initially questioned why we needed an auto vacuum when a helper would sweep and mop every time she came. The Roomba used up a lot of suitcase space, which was tight on that trip.

But it zooms around automatically once a day and makes 4-5 rounds after company. Each time it fills with lint, grit, and dust blown in by the wind and tracked in by us and our friends. No one wears outdoor shoes in the house. A shoe stand full of flip-flops stands at the entry to the porch and we wash them after use - but ... yeah. I'm glad to have the vacuum. Today I thank God again for its inventors.

I'll have real Chinese dumplings in Malasya
Finally, I finish reworking next week's course, pack, and get ready to be on the road. Well, in the air. W notices that the first flight has been delayed by two hours. He starts to rework my flights - the later one won't give me enough time, but the airline says, "Impossible," until they work it out. Thanks, hon.

In Malaysia, my first stop, I need 3-4 hours to get through immigration, pick up my luggage, check in and drop luggage, then go through immigration. I don't have a connecting flight there or in Thailand. I'll have a 3-hour flight, an 8-hour layover before another short flight with a 7-hour layover, before two more flights.

It's going to be a brutal 24 hours in airports and on 4 airplanes. I'll arrive Sunday morning. I hope no one expects me to be perky and sweet.

We're on our way to the airport by 7am. W and I have a quick breakfast across the street from the terminal. Then he heads home and I swipe my suitcase through the scanner and go to check in.

The plane leaves at 10, with no hitches. I'm sitting beside the sweetest nine-year-old and her dad. We'll connect again in Bandung, from where she flies to all kinds of competitions. "She doesn't especially like chess, but she loves to compete," her dad explains. She loves spelling bees, art, and many other things. And she loves reading.

Cheering on a young chess champion
She's the #1 Indonesian chess champ for her age group, and #1 in "under 10" in the world. While her dad and I discuss the existence of a Creator, the value of science, cloning, artificial intelligence, and logic, she reads a whole book. Reading for pleasure is unusual in a country where almost no one picks up a book voluntarily. (It's a literate but oral culture). I love her already.

The lounge is on the other side of security. The check-in counter is closed until 3 hours before the flight. So I eat lunch noodles at one place and dumplings - fantastic - in another. For 4 hours (after 2 in the immigration line and getting my luggage), I sit around. My body is weary but let's see what happens. These adventures are a lot of wait wait sit stand sit wait - between the good stuff.

Read more:
*Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. Psalm 51:12
*The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” Luke 17:5
Moravian Prayer: God of light, illuminate our lives at this darkest time of year. Quell our doubts, calm our fears, relieve our sadness. Restore our joys and let us share them with the world. Amen.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Advent blessings

It feels like Advent is truly here. This time of anticipation, when each day we yearn to celebrate Christ's birth, is a special time of year for me.
A November guest from the USA brought 2 packs of clear ornaments. **If you are traveling to someone who lives abroad, I'd encourage you to ask if there's something that you could bring to make their heart sing.** When she asked, I suggested clear ornaments and Kraft caramels. (Thanks, dear friend! I'm enjoying the globes every Advent day and looking forward to making homemade nut and caramel Turtles for Christmas.)
Inside each globe, I put a number and a verse. Day by day, I'm adding something "Christmas-y" before hanging it on the tree. Twinkle lights glow under the ornaments in an old IKEA tin. The light reminds me of God's love and forethought. Oh my, what kindness and perfect planning, to make it possible for God to live among us.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Waldemar has returned from Kuching, Malaysia. His +40 students were enthusiastic in the classroom as well as taking him for meals and around the city. As usual, he also explored the surroundings on his own. He comes back exclaiming about the nice people he met, and the modern amenities, clean streets, and cars that drive in their lanes.

The neighborhood masseuse calls: any chance that we would be willing to have a massage? She needs the money for the holiday this weekend.

"Oh yes, please," we say. At $15 for 2 hours, she is a lifesaver, unlocking muscles tense from travel and study. She comes to the house and works her magic.

We have a few people stop by - one for advice, another for resources, and still another wants company.

The logistics for life here are complicated. The flow is flexible because every month has multiple holidays. Births, weddings, and funerals (done within 24 hours of death) are communal events, so you can't count on someone being at their job or post.

Today is a national holiday to commemorate Muhammad's birthday. That means coming and going, that Jakartans are here a day early for the long weekend, and families are visiting each other. Many helpers have a day off so the neighborhood houses are mostly quiet.

We relish the empty house. We even have water for showers part of the day. Bliss.

The day hurries by in a blur of activity. We are baking pastries and pumpkin pies for tomorrow and cleaning the house. Our 2 1/2-week guest has departed: the room is turned over and aired, the kitchen and fridge emptied, and the floors washed. As soon as the bedding dries on the laundry racks, it is ironed, killing whatever bugs have landed on the rooftop. Then the room is restored for the next visitor.

Last night, I drifted into sleep with the smell of my Grandma's house around me. She's been dead for decades, but the smell brings back many memories.

Ready for some artwork
It's the first time I'm using the white coverlet I brought here in my suitcase. It is so old that the fabric-covered buttons have only a few shreds of fabric left on them. The family smell lingers in this crisp, perfectly ironed damask fabric. Soft. The pure cotton is so soft from many washings. I bet my mom washed and ironed it - because some of the fragrance is from her linen closet. Clean and sweet.

The first time I'll wash the cover here, the smell may dissipate. There will probably be wrinkles because it will be completely dried by the wind on the rooftop before it is pressed by the iron. We don't have a clothes dryer and don't need one. The air whips through the clothing and bedding and takes all the moisture away.

So I inhale, drift off with happy memories, and stay fast asleep until morning.

It's the first Sunday of Advent. I've made a 24-day outline to paint or draw this month. (Feel free to print out the photo for your own art. (If you do, I'd love to see it when you're done!) I've pulled out the finished and framed marker-medium page from Advent 2016, and hung it in my office for inspiration. The tree is up and decorated.

It's a big day for the team. 45 people are joining us today for a Thanksgiving brunch at the Bamboo Shack. Alice, who sent the invitation for us, closed the guest list but there's a healthy waiting list.
We leave the house at 8. W is driving but the traffic is surprisingly light - the back of the car is loaded with a sound system, cheese rolls and pumpkin pies, and more.
We are grateful to God for his blessings, so this is our chance to share our gratitude with others. The food is good, the program is short but well-thought out, and the table talk centers around being thankful and giving back to others.
Yay - the weather is good and nearly everyone shows up within an hour of the set time. Every member of the IESBandung team takes part: DrH welcomes everyone and prays over the food.
Claudia, who has designed the decor and managed the food service, speaks briefly about a woman who offers her son to God, in return for an end to her barrenness. (Read Hannah's fascinating story in 1 Samuel 1-3.)

Waldemar talks about the command God gives most in scripture: to be happy. It's said in various ways: "Be blessed, be joyful, abound in hope," etc.

Josue, a general go-for helper like me, adds a short summary and a closing prayer. And then the table talk starts. The room is buzzing for a few hours.

Claudia has put a quote about thankfulness at each place-setting. We write or draw something we are grateful for on a little card and use little clothespins to post them on strings hung at the entrances.
The cards make a great backdrop for the obligatory selfies (an Indonesian "must," no matter what the event.)
The best "Thank You!" card on each string gets a prize = the framed quote hung at the end of the rope. We take group pictures and are done at 2:00.

W and I are in a meeting online at 7am. At 8:30, we hear the gate bell ring.

Zelli has arrived. He's become our Monday right hand: he starts setting up the tables and chairs at 8:30 or 9am, before our large group arrives. He takes the metal wind chimes down as well. Often, a sturdy breeze whips up the valley midmorning: then the chimes ring so loudly that they drown out whoever is speaking. The bamboo chimes continue to clack as the wind arrives.

The cages for the birds stay put. The two canaries provide a trilled backdrop, singing very loudly in accompaniment to certain voices.

It's a sprint for me, trying to get things ready. The helper is volunteering at a neighborhood preschool clinic, as she does once a month. So I fill 3 big teapots with tea and put cookies and fruit bread (baked by a friend) on 3 large trays.

About noon, study participants often go off to lunch together. The IESBandung team heads upstairs to the conference table for lunch and our weekly meeting. We cherish this time together. This week, we discuss what went well yesterday and how we can improve our serve.

It's supposed to be our day off. Um, ok. Last week we studied two passages of scripture that happened to be about Sabbath and resting. We agreed it was a good - and a God - idea.

However, W is doing receipts and paperwork. I'm rewriting the course I'll teach next week in Bhutan. We have to buy supplies for tomorrow's movie night. Maybe we can combine the errand run with our scheduled date later in the day? Breathe. Relax. GO!

I love the fresh green of December! Rainy season brings an explosion of plant growth. There's a steady clip-clip of shears outside my office. The gardener is chopping back hedges, which have grown a foot since the last time he cut them. He finds some avocados while working in the neighbor's yard.

He already scrubbed the slippery algae off the driveway - it smelled like an aquarium cleanup for about 2 hours. He won't have time to mow the 8" lawn until next week. Hiring someone for yard work once a week is barely enough to keep the jungle at bay.

Back in the USA, home help is an unthinkable luxury. Realistically, few office workers or managers clean their own offices, public spaces, or office landscapes. Here, we live downstairs but most of our space is used for work and guest space. (Since we work from home, we don't have to rent offices or commute to town. Yay.)

Inside, the helper is busy sweeping and mopping the living room, kitchen, and porch, anticipating a sprawl of people on the floors. She fills the house with baking smells from 200 cheese balls and 2 cakes, before cooking a rice and chicken lunch for everyone. (A meal for 6 costs about $8, plus her wage.)

We drop by the local pizzeria: I'm not cooking the main meal tomorrow - we order a lot of meter-long pizzas for movie night. Tomorrow is another day.

Read more:
*Moses said, “Take to heart all the words that I am giving in witness against you today. This is no trifling matter for you, but rather your very life.” Deuteronomy 32:46, 27
*See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered. Isaiah 66:17
*There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. John 1:6, 8
*Jesus said, “Be like those who are waiting for their master.” Luke 12:36
Moravian Prayer: God of revelation, make us attentive to those whom you send as heralds. May we receive their words, respond to their proclamation, and follow their admonitions, that we may find you and receive abundant life.
God of the new, teach us the ways of renewal. Grant us a new start in this season of waiting for the Christ. May we, through him, make all things new in the world you have entrusted to us. Amen.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Of lizard poop, roaches, and cold showers

Stock photo of a dead roach
The silky swish across my ankle at midnight shouldn't be fabric: I'm wearing shorts in the tropical heat. So I switch on my cellphone light - and yeah, that's a +2" cockroach scurrying away under the bathroom storage cart.

Instead of screaming, I heave a sigh of relief. Thank you, God - it's running away, not coming toward me. I wash my hands and go back to bed.

While W was gone last week, there was not a single roach in sight. The same thing happened when he left last time. (The first morning he was back, an ant-covered roach lay on its back, feet kicking, in the shower. W disposed of it quickly. My hero.)

Stock photo, but we swept hundreds of dead ants
from the downstairs bathroom yesterday
When he travels to teach, my dear husband prays God's covering over me, our parade of visitors, the house and car, our work, and those we love. And somehow, God protects everyone and everything from harm and keeps those ugly critters away. We still have mass invasions of ants and the occasional rat or mouse. But however it happens, I see no roaches until he's back. So I thank God for his mercy when I see that first roach. Even when it's just run over my foot in the dark.

This past week, our guest noted the deprivation of hot water (= none for her showers all week). The fix is unique to each house, acquired over many experiments. Here, we turn on both water pumps to suck water into the reservoir tanks and pump them into our bathrooms. The squeal of the pumps may or may not come on until the initial sitting water in the pipes is expressed or drizzled out.
Every "bit of normal" is normally a "bit of extra" work
Sometimes - but not always - turning on the pumps means enough water pressure for the gas spot heater to click on. Even when there is water, you have about 2 minutes. Then the uneven water flow turns off the heater and you have to restart the process. If there's no water, you get dressed and try again later.

Filtering our water (and the covered
drinking water to prevent algae). Note, on
 the left, the plastic pipe for city water
Good thing we use bottled drinking water, though if we forget to clean the filter every week, it clogs and our supply is limited. We listen for that steady drip. drip. drip. drip to refill the 5-gallon bottles used for brushing teeth, washing food, making tea, and cooking. The other day, I saw the helper rinsing the rice with river water (filtered by the city before reaching our main house system, mind you) and I think that's how we're acquiring some immunity to stomach bugs.

Living here, you become desensitized to an ongoing variety of daily - shall we say, surprises? When we are back in the West, or at a hotel during transit, we stand under the hot flow and thank God for his blessings. A whole shower of hot water. Wow - it's not taken for granted.

And we're not complaining. We love it here, as you can tell from what I usually write.

Western visitors come expecting things to be different from home. But they enter our house with its old teak trim, the big meeting rooms where we host events, and the wide marble tile floors installed by the original wealthy family more than 60 years ago. The walls are solid concrete.
Spacious ... until the furniture is moved for 70 guests,
who sit on the floor, on pillows, and on the furniture
Somehow that's seductive and their expectations rise. The house looks like luxury, compared to the wooden structures and laminate floors of America. I'm not a shopper, but 50-90% off sales found me when we needed bedding, furniture, and dishes. (Thank you, God!) I sewed slipcovers and pillowcases to make the spaces feel homey.

However, by the time visitors stay a few days, they begin to experience the shock of real life in Indonesia. In our neighborhoods, water comes and goes, electricity flickers on and off, and traffic is so bad that it can take 3 hours for a 15-minute drive.

In the house, the ants, rats, flies, and roaches wage unceasing war on our food. Termites fight the spray to eat the wood trim. The fruit bats cling to the rafters until they peep peep peep on their way to eat the fruit in the yard. (Oh no, I was watching that papaya ripen and now it has a big hole torn in it. Toss.)
Weekend market chickens - @80o for 2 hours so far
We do love our life here - and mostly I write about that. But maybe, once in a while, it's good to admit that under the surface of an ongoing adventure of faith, we get homesick. We miss our grandchildren, parents, and children. Especially during the holidays when friends post pictures of family gatherings and church get-togethers. We sigh when parts of the modern life we grew up with disappear for a night or a week or forever.

Behind the scenes, we work hard, especially when we have new courses to prepare or events to host. It takes a few days of cooking to get food ready for our monthly movie nights. For a house manager raised by a German mother, it's an ongoing battle for clean bedding, floors, and walls. (Lizard poop dries up and sweeps right off, thankfully.) The yard sheds leaves onto the porch, rainy season turns everything to mud, and plants grow wild ... all year long.
When we fly off to some exotic destination, our friends sigh with envy. "We've always wanted to visit Bhutan / the Philippines / Singapore / Thailand ..."

Meanwhile, we've dragged our carry-on luggage down a flight of broken stairs and walked a city block or further along (and then across) the taxiway with jets blasting by (earplugs are our friends)  ... just to get to the stairs of our plane. Up we go.
Waiting for a jet to pass so we can cross to the terminal
Boarding may have been delayed an hour or more because the incoming flights are late. The planes can be old and a bit stinky, and there's usually one flight option at a time. There's rarely a first or business class, even if we could afford it with travel miles.

When we return to our city, sprawled across the valleys between tall mountains, we are tired and happy to be coming home. Still, our plane may circle over the city because of storms. We may have to make so many turns that the air traffic controllers divert us to refuel in another city before we return for a landing: thunderstorms are too dangerous to fly through and wind gusts make the runway treacherous for takeoff and touchdown.

I won't mention much about the promises kept and revised. About permissions given and withdrawn. How, "let's start breakfast at 9:00am" means people may be on the porch at 7:30am, wanting to hang out as we prepare. I'm scatterbrained and easily distracted: for big events, I have to work with a list and a timeline. (Oh oh. Hold those loosely.) Some guests may not arrive until 10:30 because they've met someone along the way and the chat took longer than expected.
Still moving: it's a good day

When we are stuck in traffic, it's hard for W not to feel anxious at "not showing up when we're supposed to." However, our Indonesian friends shrug off the half-hour delay and greet us warmly: "Come sit here. We're so happy you came."

Our conference session - carefully prepared over weeks - may be cut in half (spontaneously, as we stand at the mike) because the conference started late and the dances, speeches, and photos at the beginning ran long.

It's all part of this crazy, high-alert, and marvelous life abroad. Please pray for us as Christmas and New Years approach, would you? And we'll happily keep you posted about how privileged we feel to be called to serve across cultures. Thanks.

What would be the hardest part for you in crossing culture and living here for the next 10 years?

Read more:
*Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. Proverbs 10:9 NIV

*Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God. Joshua 23:11

*The pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world. 1 Samuel 2:8

*God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. 1 John 4:16

*God appointed a Son (Jesus) heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. Hebrews 1:2-3

Moravian Prayer: Lord of all creation, you hold the whole world in your hands. We give you thanks for the teaching of your Son, Jesus, who sustains us and brings clarity to how we should live our lives. 

God of compassion, if we truly love you we will feed your sheep. Grant us the strength to love and serve our friends as well as our enemies so that we will live in the warmth of your love. Amen.

Friday, November 24, 2017

An 8-fly day is a good day

Thursday, November 23, 2017
8 flies. That's all I got today.

Every time I get into the shower, I squish as many drain flies as I can catch. They flit over the chipped and the peeling surface of the aged blue tiles. When they land, a hand slap and they're dead. These super-bomber-shaped triangles buzz around the bathroom walls and ceiling.

Some days, there are 40 or more of them. I've sprayed, put essential oils and other natural deterrents into the drain and shower ... and they persist. On a good day, there may only be 8-10. Today was a good day. I'm thankful.

A lot of writing happens in this office of mine. I curl my feet into the rug we bought a decade ago in Montana. The rug was finger-crocheted using yarn ends from the Penelton wool mill in Oregon. It's a warm and comforting base under the old teak dining table that serves as my desk.
In the evening, I head to a restaurant on the next hill to meet about 50 others for Thanksgiving dinner. I'm privileged to say grace over the meal, dreamed up by our friend Bob on the porch a week and a half ago. I didn't know if he and his staff could pull it off, but the table settings are beautiful, the attendees are happy to be together, and we have a good evening.
The evening gets off to a cheery start: we're judging 20+ photos hung on the wall in a contest of scenes of Bandung.
Rice terraces: my photo entry

The restauranteurs are friendly and some of us pitch in to help with their first-ever Thanksgiving feast. Four friends have baked turkeys for them; my helper made 8 breads, which are a hit with pumpkin soup as a first course. Then we eat the turkeys, potatoes, gravy, and veges ... all yummy. We end with ice cream on pumpkin pie. (Our helper baked the 6 huge pies from 4 little pumpkins).

I sit with two Australian women who are studying foreign development and politics. Their universities are participating in an exchange with Indonesian students. They like Bandung, though they admit some things take them by surprise. One gal is treating her studies as a test run, to see if she can cross cultures successfully. So far, so good. We invite them to some of our events.

Our hikes have changed from Thursday to Friday for the next few months. (Thursdays, W and I have a study in the afternoon, so it was always a scramble to get back on time from the mountains around the city to home - and then we'd quickly shower off the grit and dirt before heading out.)
Sundanese tea plantation workers
Today, we're circling some hot springs, which means we're pretty close to a volcano. We walk through tea fields and overgrown forest trails. Someone has hacked off the abundant growth of rainy season from on one side of the path. The cuttings fall over the ground. We can hardly see the trail under piles of sticks and leaves.
Our security yard dog Gypsy runs ahead and does his job of chasing away wildlife: we see no snakes or other critters during the miles of grass, branches, and mud underfoot.
The scenery is stunning and the ground is mostly level (if you don't count a steep hike down and back up from the waterfall.)
Acres of tea
Ants swarm the fallen branches, scavenging and returning to their nests. We have many kinds of ants in the house, in the yard, and in the wild. They're everywhere, persistent and hardworking. Ugh.
I ask some of the women what they get out of the walks. One, in language school, says it clears her brain for the hard work of learning. Another thrives on the exercise. For some it's the company, getting out of the house to be with other people.
Up and down a treehouse that serves as a lookout across the valley
Me? It helps me stay healthy and alert for planning, hospitality, teaching, and other stuff we do here. I also get to pray for people I'd never otherwise meet, in places I probably wouldn't go.

After lunch, we drop fellow walkers at their places, and I get some reading done. Soon it will be time to teach another course.

In a sudden burst of creative energy, I chop my hair, It was almost time for a haircut anyway. Saves a lot of time and money to do it at home. I'm grateful for sharp scissors.

Read more:
*The Lord will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish. Psalm 9:18 NIV

*Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100 NIV
*When I think of your ordinances from of old, I take comfort, O Lord. Psalm 119:52 ESV
*Mary sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. Luke 10:39 ESV
*Paul wrote: We will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18 ESV
Moravian Prayer: Gracious God, you never abandon those in need of your help. Remind us that we cannot rely on ourselves alone, but are in constant need of your guiding light.
God of the harvest, we give you thanks not only for the bounteous yield, but for the peace we find in your holy teaching. Help us to be like Mary and listen to your words for us. Amen.

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
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.

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.