Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Chop chop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

Unexpected additions

Each day this week contained a surprise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Beautiful things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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