Saturday, October 14, 2017

Teaching, twittering, and traveling

Clucking in the morning, on the market table
in the hot sun by 6am
Wait a minute - it's mid-October already?

Saturday, October 14, 2017
I got back early this morning from a week in Jakarta, teaching seminarian doctoral students. What fun! Of the 9 students, 6 are businessmen and philanthropists, one is a medical doctor, and the other 2 are pastors. (There are auditors as well.) Best of all, my translator is a dear friend whom I admire and whose kids stayed with us during part of their university term in Seattle.

The week before last, I wedged class prep between normal engagements. W was packing to take a trip. We skipped the walk on Thursday - and really missed it. I also missed a garage sale by the Rotary club, spearheaded by our own DrH (who is president of the Rotary this year.) Let's just skip the whole busy week, ok?
Waldemar checks out the Rotary sale (Dr. H on left)

At 38c, this fish had to come home with me.
 


Crowded market street
Baby chicks (painted or plain) and ducklings ($1-$1.50 each)
Choosing your pet mouse from a box ($2.50 includes cage)
Hermit crabs inside painted shells
Sunday
Last week, we headed up to a Sunday market we've heard about, and that's what the photos are about (above.) You also should see the cute kids who crowded around us when we peeked in at a wedding on our way home.


This Sunday, it's fun to preach together again. It's been a while. We're addressing stewardship of the environment - we have no right to mess up God's world. Our neighbor Jez joins us to answer questions: he's a passionate environmentalist and nature photographer.

While W teaches a theology class afterward, people hang out with Jez to try his DIY electric bike (amazing) and chat. He feels welcome. "It's sure was not what I expected this morning." He hasn't been to church in decades.

Monday
After an online conference, our regular study, and a 2-hour staff lunch and meeting, we pack our suitcases. We stack them by the door, ready for the morning.
We could be called, "Keeping Rosemarie on track,"
but in truth, we hold each other accountable
every Monday morning.
Tuesday
The driver bucks traffic into Jakarta and drops us at a neighborhood hotel. The room is pretty but it smells of smoke and there are sewer fumes when someone showers above us. The ants in the bathroom are not unusual for Indonesia, though we are on the 7th floor. I don't think twice as I squish a few and wash the rest down the sink. The same little flies that we find in our home shower are flitting around.

I check my class notes and PPTs. By 3:30, our ride to school has arrived (thanks, Mr. Ruslan). The building is just around the city block. My bag with a binder of notes, a tea thermos, books, and my computer is heavy and we finish late at night, so I keep accepting transport all week. I'm not sure how the class will go since it's the first time I'm teaching this one. W sets up the tech - but we can't figure out why I can't see the presenter view for the PPT. It annoys W to no end and he keeps fussing over the computer during breaks. (He figures it out eventually.)

The men bring snacks and tea for us (lecturer and translator). We start with our foundational premises but proceed quickly to questions. What do the students think about various issues? They are responsive and have a lot of experience. It's great fun to hear their ideas as we move through the information.
One night, the students order a salad for me. Looks good - 
And even better when you tip it into a plate!
Someone orders takeaway dinners every night: I focus on noodles today. They are delicious - and I learn how to unfold the plastic wrap in the cardboard box to pour the broth over the noodles. "Wet noodles" are actually a tasty chicken noodle soup. There are more snacks - and more tea - after dinner. Whhhaat? How can Indonesians stay so thin?

Dr Gatut joins the class to share his leadership role in setting up organizational outreaches. The class is interested - some of their non-profits are thinking about expanding as well.
Dr Gatut: rapt attention for a wise man

Wednesday
We sleep well. In the morning, I have to preach in a chapel at a seminary an hour from the hotel. A Grab car picks me up at 7:30 for the 9-11am service. The students and faculty crowd around for selfies while I hold up the certificate given for speaking.
Worship team of graceful dancers
Faculty selfies
I ask Ibu L to cancel lunch: we're not done until almost noon. I sure need a nap when I get back to the hotel after 1:00. L, who lives on the south side of the city (2-4 hours away in traffic), also heads for the couch in her husband's office instead of going for lunch. She's younger than I, but it's a high-focus endeavor to speak or to translate. Meanwhile, W has left for the airport and his trip abroad. 

I ask for a non-smoking room. What a difference. There's no sewer smell, either. I fall into bed after reading my class notes and setting the alarm.

In the evening, the student who asked to take us to lunch tells me he was prepared for my refusal. "I already knew you couldn't come for lunch."

"Then why did you ask me?" I chuckle.

He replies, "It's polite to be hospitable. It's the Asian thing to do" even though he intimated that I'd have to decline.

Each day, we engage in a spiritual discipline. The class has an overnight assignment of reading and reflection. They gather in small groups to discuss their observations and findings. I learn a lot about Indonesia, how established friendships process information, and what is already in place in non-profit expansion. It's exciting to hear. I can understand quite a bit but am so grateful for L's translation skills.

Tonight, Pak Lew is our guest. He spends almost two hours showing students what is possible in new areas of Indonesia. He explains the process of recruitment of volunteers and shows what his organization has done. The class is enthralled and has lots of ideas after he leaves.

My friend Tuesday flies in at midnight. The driver waits at the airport for her after he drops off Waldemar, and then drives her to Bandung, where she settles in.

Without traffic, it takes about 3 hours. However, their drive is a little over four hours in the middle of the night. There is no "good time" to drive with so many old, slow trucks on the freeway. Packed with heavy cargo they chug up the hills and cruise down again.

Thursday
We leave the hotel at 11:30 to meet most of the students for Chinese food. The well-known restaurant is where the business group regularly meets; we get a beautiful side room. More pictures? Of course. The students assure me I'll be back soon, despite the long commute (= not far away, it just takes a long time to get anywhere.) "No problem, you will have plenty of time to prepare afterward."

The food is great and we enjoy the beautiful presentation. But I have to decline coffee and a tour at a local church afterward. I really DO have to keep up with the class! It's emerging as an interactive and challenging sweep of information - I get a ride back to the hotel with a staff member at 2:30 and have everything prepared on time.
The tenderest black pepper chicken ever?
Our special guest for class is Tuesday, who interacts with us from Bandung via the internet. She works with low-status populations and has an entirely different view on compassionate care within neighborhoods. There are lively discussions after she hangs up.

Meanwhile, W arrives safely in the USA (30+ hours of flights and connections) to enjoy warm hellos and hugs from the grandkids. Oh, I'm so jealous. I put it out of my mind and focus on teaching.

Friday
I work for a few hours before having a massage in my room. My back is hunched and my shoulders are tight as sinews from poring over books and typing the past few weeks. OUCH. One solution and the price of a moderate lunch - please knead out those kinks! The masseuse is professional, digging out the worst of the tension.

I assemble the class material and set it to one side. Time is so fluid in Indonesia that I never know how much packing I'll have time for after lunch. You'd think 3.5 hours would be plenty of time to eat, return, and prepare, right? Maybe.

At noon, Hary, a senior student, and his wife Devi come to take me to lunch. "What would you like to eat? Do you like dim sum?" YES! Bandung has little variety in Chinese food; on the other hand, Jakarta has a big Chinese population with great restaurants and specialized menus.

It's close by and takes only 3/4 hour to get to the restaurant. The food is delicious and worth the trip. I make a quick call to a lovely young woman we consider our Indonesian daughter (she stayed with us for a year in the USA.) "We'll be there in about a half hour," she promises.

What? She is willing to pack up her 5-mo-old baby and meet us? I'm thrilled.
Such a pleasure
When she and her husband arrive, I'm astonished that their little guy is even cuter than his pictures. He lets me hold him for a while before puckering his lips and starting to cry. I hand him back to his mama, who rocks him and puts him right back to sleep. His dad says, "He loves conversation. He'll sleep and relax if he hears people talking." How cool is that? (I still can't get over his perfect little face.)

We head out the door at 2:45. "We still have time on the way back to get a birdcage," my hosts say. They turn onto a shortcut, a side street which we passed coming to the restaurant. We hop out of the car and into a few aviary shops. There are cages and cages. There are trays of maggots and trays of worms (bird food). There is every kind of bird from sparrows to exotic songbirds.
Squirmy bird food
In a little open courtyard, judges are examining about two dozen murai batu birds. (Listen here to an $8000 bird.) "When they are chicks, they sell for about $200. These competitors might be $2000. And the champion will be worth up to $10,000." The long tails twitch as the birds sing and posture. The cooing and tweeting is sweet music.

I know exactly what I'm looking for: wire flight cages. I've been looking for something more humane for our canaries: the 14" width of their current cages is awful for birds that love to spread their wings to fly. We find a used cage in good condition as well as a new one. Within a few minutes, Devi negotiates a good deal for both and we pack them into the back of the car.

My ride to class is waiting in the lobby because it's 3:35. See? Time flies.

"No worries," my student says, "I'll wait in the lobby." I rush up to my room (thankful that I packed up before lunch!), change, and head back down.
Having fun at the end of the week
Most classmates are late: Jakarta traffic makes any trip unpredictable. We start anyway and zoom through as much of the remaining information as we can. I pass around a USB stick containing my notes, PPTs, resources, and the class assignments. They can read what we didn't get to discuss, if they are interested.

I pack up the room and fall into bed about 11:00pm. And set the alarm for 4:30am.

5:30am: toll road traffic
Saturday
When the alarm buzzes, I jump up to tuck the remainder of my things into the suitcase. I carry the birdcages down and gather the box of books from behind the lobby counter (too tired to carry them up last night and back down this morning). I go back up for my bag and suitcase, adn then Pak E helps me put the flight cages into the back of the car. We're off before 5am.

I click into my seatbelt and lay down on the back seat for a 20-minute nap. Then the sun's up, and I'm wide awake. The toll highway out of Jakarta is already starting to bunch up behind trucks and buses. But we've left in time! before the main rush. It takes us only 3:10 hours (for 100 miles) until we pull up at our gate. The driver heads home to sleep.

I intend to snooze. But the helper has caught a mouse in the glue trap (where oh where are the new traps?) and I can't stand to leave things in the suitcase. I unpack. I make a few pancakes for breakfast at 9:30, coax the canaries into their new homes, and putter until noon.

Someone from the international church calls - can I lead the service tomorrow? Sure. "Send me the program so I know what to announce." He emails me the files.

Ibu A makes nasi goreng ayam (fried rice with chicken) for lunch. Deeelicious. She laughs because the rice has turned purple from the shaved red cabbage in it. She's left out the seasoning for Tuesday, who is on a restricted diet due to allergies. T tests the rice and sticks to her own food. Much safe - smart woman.

We sit around the dining table to catch up and chat for over an hour. Then we sigh with relief as we head to our rooms for a snooze. She's still jet-lagged. And I'm worn from the week of teaching. It was fun, though! And I met so many wonderful people.

Read more:
*The word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.  Deuteronomy 30:14
*The crowds asked John, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Luke 3:10-11
Moravian Prayer: Life-giving God, may your words and witness be our guide. Help us not only to be hearers but doers also. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Eating in community: it's a thing


Sunday, September 25, 2017
Today is our team barbecue. Everyone shows up at 15:00 (3:00pm) to cook and feast together. These friends are so dear; we are becoming ever closer as we study and socialize together.

One of the values of IES is good food shared in community. We live up to our value with a combination of food from Brazil (meat! done perfectly on the bbq), Germany (potato salad, red cabbage, and green vinaigrette salad), and Thailand (young papaya salad) dishes. Look at the plate full of goodness!

I've printed out the agenda for tomorrow's team meeting. Do we just want to finish it tonight? Clau is off to Timor to work on a children's recording later in the week. Josh is headed for another part of the island with his kids as well. Time is precious.

We're already here, so we decide to read, pray, and plan together. It's hard to focus with such contented stomachs, but we work, wrap up with smiles, and hug our goodbyes with happy hearts.

Monday
My 7am online meeting is canceled. This morning's study is big enough that the teras is crowded. We push chairs back, insert more seating, and drink 4 big pots of tea. The cookies and other treats disappear.
Still a few missing outside the photo
Since our team met last night, W and I can head into town for lunch with the group. Two teens, who love attending with their folks, want to eat at a shop across the street from their school. It's over a half-hour in traffic but only a few km. away.

We stop on the way home to buy groceries for movie night. How exciting, right? We look at each other. "Let's stay home and watch the movie for Wednesday, instead of heading out to date night." Yes. Let's not battle traffic and then come home and have to watch. It's a tear-jerker - Lion (2016), a story of being lost and found. A relaxing date indeed.

Tuesday
W and Josue take the train into Jakarta to attend a staff meeting. I have to stay behind to work: they leave first thing in the morning and won't come home until late evening.

The gardener (who tames the rampant tropical growth once a week) shows up at 7:00am. I line up a hose to show him where I want the grass cut out for a flower bed. He takes a little shovel and cuts out the grass - it takes him all day. He also decants 3 little trees into the ground. A good start.

Where there was only lawn, there will be a flowerbed.
Meanwhile, the ibu-ibu (helpers) and I are busy from morning until late afternoon. We bake, cook, and clean for tomorrow. 7 kg (15lb) of chicken breast in the sue vide. Then cooled. Stowed in the fridge for cutting and assembly of two dishes tomorrow. Done. 3 kg of cocktail sausages cooked in homemade curry sauce. Check. German potato salad (15 potatoes, 7 eggs) made and refrigerated. Yes ... and more. Each item is checked off my to-dos.

After the women leave, I go outside. About 40 potted plants from the teras are sitting in the driveway and around the backyard. I haul them into place in the new flowerbed. Wow, that adds useable square feet to the porch! Now if they'll get planted "just like that" (with their backs turned to the house and their good sides to the yard), they'll look great. They'll get put into the ground next Tuesday. Luckily it rains all week, so they're content to sit without watering. Who has time for that?!

Where did all these pots come from?
I come back inside about 17:30 (5:30pm) when it begins to get dark. Supper is a quick pot of ramen. I tug on my PJs with relief, put my feet up, and relax. At last!

But at 19:00 (7pm), there's a knock on the front door. "You-hoo! Rosemarie? Rosemarie?"

Who's that? Am I expecting someone? I throw a robe over my pajamas and find two guests outside.

"Did you forget? We have to go over the material for Thursday."

Yes, I forgot. I apologize and ask them to give me a minute. I dash into the bedroom to dress, run a comb through my mussed hair, swipe gloss over my lips, and invite them in.

Just about that time, W walks in the door. The guys had a good trip. Typically, I don't get many details, but by the time I see him again, I'm too tired to ask questions.

I'm not sure what we are doing - I look on as the learning center leader shows me what she is presenting and asks about an essay she sent my way. I looked at it. I didn't do anything with it though. She leaves after an hour and I drop into a chair. Put the TV on for an hour. I need to decompress.

Wednesday
Today is movie night! Hurrah. We have done most of the prep. 59 guests signed up, but we never know who comes. I putter and make sure things are in order. I call my friend in the USA, who encourages and prays for me. And I glance at the calendar. IbuA has her 57th birthday tomorrow. I put together a gift with a card, and hand it to her.

"I thought you forgot, and I was wondering if I should bring it up," she admits. I would have forgotten, except for the inner prompt to check the calendar.

At big events like movie night, I have enough energy for the day and nothing more. When the helpers come at 15:00, they're surprised by how little they have to do. A local gal comes in about an hour after they arrive, bringing along a friend. "Can I help?" she asks.

I direct her to the women hanging out in the back. No, they don't have work for her. They are chopping fruit, washing vegetables, and rinsing rice, and chatting and laughing together.

So she and I hang out until I have to get back to the schedule on my fridge. 17:00: warm up the curried sausages. 17:15: plate the cold food. 18:00: put garlic bread in the ovens. Etc. Etc. I learned in college that a list keeps my feet moving when the pressure mounts. I go through the checklist and the meal is done. Dr H brings a big bag of vegetable fritters, which go on the vegetarian side. I snag one for myself since I probably won't eat until everyone else is done. I love her food!

Small groups cluster as they eat, a good way
to meet and make new friends.
As young people arrive, the volume begins to pick up. Many of them are late tonight: we had a big rain. Looks like rainy season is back - not after the 6 usual months of dry, but after 3 months this year. The rain went on and on until the end of May (instead of Jan/Feb.) I'm not sure I'm ready for the downpours, but I'm sure people down the hill are not looking forward to the flooding either.

Midway through the evening, the house is full and the movie is playing to a rapt audience. I get a text. "Sorry, my vegetarian friend worked late and we are not coming." Oh well, we were ready, just in case. Maybe next time. (Early in the day, texts flew back and forth: "Will there be tasty food for a vegetarian? I want to bring my Indian friend from Thailand." "Of course," I text back. "But no eggs or butter," he writes. I was vegan for 7 years, so I prepare an extra dish for his friend to eat.)

The group sings "Happy Birthday" to Ibu A, who smiles and claps along with their singing. The cake she frosted this afternoon was her own birthday cake.

The house is quiet by 22:45. W and I clean up a bit and drop into bed. We fall asleep around midnight.

Thursday
I miss our walk in the hills today. W and I count on the long hike to stretch our bodies and get us out of the house. There's no time today. I write Morning Pages, the first time in weeks. The three longhand pages help me sort out what needs to be done and what just needs to be processed in my head.

One of my best "heavy-in-the-suitcase" items was our robot-vacuum. I love it! Every day, it lumbers over the cracks in the tiles and beats the rugs from every angle, sweeping up crumbs and dust. This morning, it passes around the main room and kitchen. 3 full dustbins later, I empty the Roomba and plug it in for the last time.

W directs the return of furniture to its place. Today, his main task is preparing for a trip he's taking in 2 weeks.

My task is joining a learning center team, training high school teachers about writing. I'm not sure what my part is in this. Am I support, in case they have English questions? Am I there to listen and find out what the learning center does? We have a 3 hour workshop. The essay I received to look at was partly edited and ... wait, was I supposed to make more edits in it? Am I presenting? Am I helping?

At 11:00, I jump in the car to a top international high school, where the learning team is setting up. The teachers come into the room and are energized by the other presenter, who is lively and engaging. Since it starts at noon, helpers bring in individual lunch boxes containing traditional food (yum - chicken, noodles, rice, hot sauce, and a vegetable) and bottled water. The first presenter goes through information on writing a descriptive essay. She asks if I mind her taking more time from the amount allotted to me?

No. Not at all. I have no idea how much time I'm supposed to take, and actually, I'm still not clear about my part. Watching her, I pull up a few files. Maybe that's what I'm demonstrating: argumentative essays?

I scramble to find and arrange the files, which come up hidden one behind the other. I have no outline for the talk, no PPT, and no graphics except the partly edited files. I read them through again, noting what has changed between the original submission and the edited one.

There's even dessert - "green banana":
sliced banana, young coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and ice.
With sprinkles on top.
When I pull up the files to demonstrate what to look for and how to edit student papers, someone leaps to the front of the room to help me out. He narrows the margins so I can view the text @350 so all can see. Ah... that's one way to do it. So logical. Every time I fail, I learn something new. Cool.

I have to think on my feet. If I'd known what I was presenting, I'd have pulled together the session. I printed out some handouts, but they're not duplicated or handed out. The other presenter collects them and takes them back to the office with her.

Next time, I'd know to submit handouts in advance for copying - and I'd be sure to clarify what I'm supposed to do ... until I understand. Though I sound relaxed, my brain is churning to organize the ideas into a logical flow. Comes 15:00 and we're done. I'm exhausted. We say goodbye with handshakes and I'm off to the next thing.

I have to pick up storage bins. This week, two big mice landed in traps in the dirty kitchen (an open room used for storage and frying food.) The rodents chewed up replacement refill bags of sauces and other food. After a quick trip to the container store, I toss the plastic boxes in the back of the car.

Ibu A's husband is a handyman. He built shelves inside and above the old water reservoir in the dirty kitchen (photo below). The ibu-ibu are happy to have more space to work on movie night, when we stash everything from the regular kitchen in the back.

The driver churns through traffic, the weaving motorcycles, the pedestrians pulling carts or crossing between cars, the big busses pushing through any opening, and the little vans parked fully in a lane to take on passengers. I check messages and emails so I don't have to watch. He takes us safely to the restaurant where W is wrapping up a study.
Before: an unused water reservoir
After: storage galore with water bottles underneath and storage bins atop.
The newspaper keeps the mice off the water heater.
Coming home, I'm barely awake. My focus now has to shift to the next class in Jakarta. I have little "hard work" done ahead of time. One by one, I find myself planning new classes between our regular obligations. I know what's coming, but I don't have the headspace to do more than read new textbooks and mark them up.

I dump all information into a big file. This class already has 50+ pages of notes, which I'll sort and cull into submission before the class begins. Once the class starts, I work late every day, pacing information for the capacity of students. (The second time one teaches a course, it's SO much easier. The first time, anything can happen - and it sometimes does, no matter how much we know.)

Someone calls with another opportunity. W and I accept: we'll speak together on a Sunday morning at a local church. The topic interests us both: stewardship of the environment, based on the Bible. What is the obligation of someone who says they follow Jesus?

An email pings into the inbox. It's from the head of the seminary. The students need a syllabus of textbooks, the class outline, etc. What? They have no syllabus yet?

I had asked for an older syllabus a few months ago to could prep my coursework to match previous versions of this calss. At that point, I was told I didn't have to give assignments or grade. So I assumed I didn't need to prep a new syllabus. Hmmm, how will the doctoral students read the texts, with the class one and a half weeks away? Most are not English speakers, so the lectures will be translated.

I refuse to fret. This is a country where flow is the norm and information is given as needed (we hope). The interactive group time in class will show me if students understand the information. I don't mind explaining, though it helps if the class has done advance research.

A family vehicle ...
Friday
Today's the day to get the syllabus out the door. First, I take everything off my desk. I need focus while I work. I crank up "Focus at Will" techno music. Most of the day is spent on the syllabus, though I get up to organize my office and order my bookshelves. Every once in a while as I'm typing, I squish the little ants that run across the computer keyboard and screen.

I look in a group WhatsApp and see that someone has posted a brochure of the course with my picture on it. (Things have a way of going roundabout before we see them.) New info for me: it's an open lecture format so anyone can attend. That makes it even more interesting. Hmmm.

All of life is sorting: we have many opportunities but not everything aligns with our available time or vision.

I get a late-evening call: "Would you send the material you presented yesterday, along with the edits?" I've just sent off the syllabus and am tired. But if it needs doing ... I get up and go back into my office. Where are the files? (Oh, I thought I was done with them! I'm glad I didn't delete them.)

A beautiful rooster pecks through the garbage
at the side of the road
It takes me another hour to pull together the material into a handout that will go to the teachers. I send it off and tumble into bed. It's a good lesson. This is not the best use of my energy and time. I'll focus on higher ed and leave the younger schools to someone else.

Saturday
The weekend is for sleeping in? Resting? Not this one. I'm off and running with academic prep. The day flies by.

I cook breakfast and am so hungry for lunch that I toss that together, too. W joins me from the porch, where he's sorting contacts for his upcoming trip. I pet the dog each I go by the open door. (No walk for him today!)

As evening comes, W walks to Miss Bee to pick up fish and chips. "We'll split one order of takeaway." Sounds good.

Except he returns with a pizza and salt-and-pepper-tofu. "What! Sorry, hon," he apologizes. He completely zoned out and put in an automatic order. It will taste good anyway, though I was hungry for fish and chips. ahha

Read more:
*Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart. Deuteronomy 8:2 ESV

*As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Ecclesiastes 11:5 NIV

*“In the last days," God says, "I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

"I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Acts 2:17-21 NIV

*Paul wrote: Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time. Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Lord, when we find ourselves in the wilderness and alone, be with us. Help us to find our way home to you. Amen.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Prayers and a neighbor's memorial

Friday, September 22, 2017 
There's a civet on the roof (pics from the internet). At least, that's what we think is walking on the clay tiles at night. A civet has the face of a rat, racoon, or bear, depending on how you see such things, with the body of a cat = God mixing it up and maybe smiling at the cute outcome. 

They often eat the papaya that we are ready to pick, the night before we do. Great hunks of orange flesh, the rest of the fruit still hanging on the tree, mark their feast as the fruit. These cats also consume and digest coffee beans, which are gathered and sold as expensive kopi luak. We see the poop on our walks in the forest, sometimes. (And we leave it there.)

Many pet and feral cats live in the neighborhood. Our Japanese neighbor loves cats and adopted one or two. Now at least 5 or 6 roam the property, having found the food bowls outside our houses. They eat dog or cat food, depending on their appetites. We keep them off the furniture by sprinkling black pepper on the cushions = non-toxic and highly effective. The cats stroll boldly on our teras. 

Gypsy, our beautiful black mutt, chases off the strangers and plays with "his" cats. Something is bugging him: he's ripped chunks of fur out to scratch his skin. The vet sends along some steroid pills to soothe the itching.

We spot a youngster carrying a fighting cock (chicken) under his right arm, while he turns his bike and steers down an alley with his left. Boys love to raise these chickens and host cockfights. It's hard to see him in this picture because it took a while to get my phone out of the bag.

As we exit our neighborhood, several ponies are hard at work, taking little kids for rides. Every weekend or holiday, in this case for Muslim New Year today, Sunda horsemen tether their horses outside shops and popular hotels. They ride into town from pastures in the hills above the city - or hold the horses' reins to trot them beside a motorcycle.

Friday
We have made it a habit to pray Fridays at a retreat center nearby. Clusters of rooms (six per building) allow us to have personal time listening for God's direction before we pray together. It's crucial for us to hear God's voice with so many cultural and social adjustments.

I usually take along some art supplies and as I pray, I doodle. 
Occasionally, it looks like "something" but usually, it's not much of anything. This morning is about presence and becomes filled with color. Strangely, the bird looks the same upside or down. Can you see the two figures on the bottom left, leaning in to listen? (left above) Turned upside down, it's something else entirely. 

The shapes are abstract and hardly proportional. I doodle all around the pages, not paying too much attention as I'm praying for others. Using my hands sets my heart free. Most of the time, I can barely reach the scratchpad across the table where it's shoved behind my Bible and notebook.

My meditation is on Hebrews 1:1-4 (written out below). It's one of my favorite scripture passages. Since J&C have a morning commitment, we pray together before they leave.

W come an hour later, finds my shoes outside the building, and settles into the room beside mine. We wrap up by sharing what we have heard.

On the way home, we detour onto the Adventist University campus, where we've heard there is a health food store. One of the students jogs alongside the car, "I know where it is. I'll show you," he says - and takes us right to the door. Nice young man! We pick up a few staples (nuts, seeds, oatmeal for homemade trail mix) and are home for lunch about 1:30.

We leave the house to catch an Uber at 6. We're attending prayers for a Catholic neighbor who was our first landlord. His funeral is tomorrow - Saturday - and it will be a big deal. His body will be transported to the university where he worked as a respected biology researcher and scientist. His four sons also work in medical or scientific fields. 

Dozens of flower boards line the entry to the prayer chapel behind the hospital. They are memorial boards from classmates, coworkers, and friends. Some have four separate bouquets attached, a costly display of his high esteem.

We greet his sister. She tells us she has just arrived from Germany, where she's lived for 47 years. "I came yesterday, but haven't slept yet," she confesses. She's a medical doctor. She points out her siblings, likewise well-educated scientists.

Dr Alfred's grandkids are there, too. "They'll miss their grandpa," says their father. He's the youngest son, who studied in Seattle. They still have a cousin who also went to UW, and obtained a green card to live in Seattle.

The casket is gleaming white, draped in netting as is the custom. It's surrounded by flowers in an alcove draped with purple and white satin. Dr A will be laid to rest tomorrow in a Christian cemetery alongside his first wife, a departure from the usual Chinese cremation.

The odd thing about this hall, located behind St Boromeus Hospital, is that three viewing alcoves share the space. Dr Hanna, who takes us along tonight, says that "sometimes all three are occupied at once. It can get a bit chaotic if the service times coincide." This time, Dr Alfred is on his own.

As per tradition after the last night of prayers, attendees eat bubur ayam (rice porridge with chicken). I just ate before we came so my stomach says no, though it's a favorite food. We're still learning the local customs.

Saturday
We ease awake and fall back asleep. I start the day by baking oatmeal pumpkin muffins. They're not sweet at all: next time I shall add sugar as well as honey.

Most of the day is spent doing research. I'm prepping a class. W buys my tickets to Thailand, reserving the first two flights of three, en route to Bhutan in December.

My mind keeps going back to last night: what is temporal - money, wealth, power, relationships - is left behind. Only eternal investments go with us through death into eternal life.

Read more:
*It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. Psalm 127:2 NASB

*Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:1-6 NIV

*Paul wrote: My God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 ESV

*In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. Hebrews 1:1-4 NIV

Moravian Prayer: 
Lord, thank you for being with us and helping us to rest. Continue to give us strength. Amen.