Sunday, January 15, 2017

A wedding, a long walk, and poetry

I get to preach today! I love speaking. The subject (King David as Artist and Writer) resonates with me. David wrote music and poems inspired by his relationship with God, his hopes and dreams, and his life experiences. Even today, David calls us to true worship and the integration of life and art.

Saturday, January 7, 2017
We attend the wedding of one of our movie night couples. What a beautiful celebration of their beginning.

Josue and Claudia arrive with their two 6-year-olds. They move upstairs, from where they'll get their bearings. They'll be improving their Bahasa Indonesia at a local university. J is a professional life coach, so they look forward to engaging people around them.

I take a quick walk around the neighborhood to DrH's house. Her Christmas decor is still up; she's waiting for a film crew to shoot a non-profit film. Her high school friend - who now lives in the Netherlands - is visiting. It's a privilege to meet her.

The family confirms schools for the children and finds a house to rent. For a very reasonable price, it meets their criteria. It is near schools, shops, and in a good neighborhood. Wow - this is like riding a toboggan on an icy hill - things come together so quickly! We have prayed for a long time and God is answering with specific provisions.
Gypsy is happy, having his own boy to play with.

Language school restarts next week. First, I have to prepare to speak on the weekend and finish administrative work. Waldemar gets his American citizenship done and is relieved that the ordeal is over.

Before we get all hot and messy
The kids start school. For me, it's another walk in the hills.

The side trail to a "bonus" waterfall is so steep that I'm sore for 2 days after. The view is worth it. Gypsy is in his glories, bounding up and down the paths.

This is the first time we've had to pay for this walk. The fee is under $1US, but still... how annoying. Someone is buying up rights to all the walks, fencing off wild areas and making hikers pay to walk the forest trails.
We may be paying, but the walk has deteriorated: a stream runs across the path
Where the walk is totally washed away,
they put a handrail beside a metal irrigation pipe.
We cross the stream on the pipe.
That someone has built 2 bamboo bridges across the river span of Mariska's Walk (named in honor of our friend's final walk before returning to the Netherlands.) We no longer have to balance across a log at one end or wade the rushing currents under the beautiful waterfall.

"The bridges somehow make this less of an Indiana Jones adventure," says a walker.

It's safer but less fun. I sit on a huge stone, take off my shoes and socks, and cool my feet in the icy pool below the torrent.
And then  we leave a wide track for a tiny path through the forest and back to the cars.
Friday and Saturday
I'm holed up with paperwork and sermon preparations. Conference calls take a few hours.

The family comes and goes, familiarizing themselves with neighborhoods and amenities.

They also grab a ladder and fix the plastic drooping from the skylight upstairs. It's a family affair, this repair!

There's a really good band at church. After the service, we head to Bumi S for lunch. What a privilege to celebrate God's goodness with spiritual friends. And to rest up in the afternoon.

Read more:
*You have made the Lord your refuge. Psalm 91:9 ESV

*Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness. Isaiah 5:20 ESV

*The God of heaven is the one who will give us success, and we his servants are going to start building. Nehemiah 2:20 ESV

*We are God’s fellow workers. 1 Corinthians 3:9 (NKJV)

*For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 1 Peter 2:21-22 ESV

*We who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us. Hebrews 6:18 ESV
Moravian Prayer: Omnipotent God, through your mighty works you created us, your workers. In all that we busily do to prepare for your coming this Advent season, remind us that our work is for your good and perfect will. We are thankful that you are our refuge indeed. Thank you for guidance in this life and for our future home with you. Help us to bring your consolation to others. 
Most gracious Lord, thank you for the example of your life that you have set before us. Help us as we share in your sufferings to remember that we will one day also share in your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Did someone say Happy New Years?

My chicken schnitzel costs $4.50. 
So much happens in a week that much is forgotten. I lay low for the first half of the week, worn out from Christmas and New Years. Here's what the pictures remember: the rest is a blur.

After so much cooking, I take a pause. We eat lunch out, while we run errands.

The week is filled with calls, editing W's lectureship (sending his notes off is his week's big chore), and writing thank you notes. My long to-do list shrinks day by day.

We are grateful for online connections as we wish our families a Happy New Years. But they seem very far away.

When we walk the dog in the morning, we greet the neighbors. One is dressed in full (hooded) parka. The air feels cold at 72o. W and I are in trousers and short sleeves.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017
We meet a friend and his sister for lunch. We enjoy time together - she is a 40-something mom with a youngster, trying to figure out education and how to raise a child.

W stays home, preparing for a trip, while I walk with 5 others. We head for the mountains above the city - and zig-zag our way up to the top. The trip down is just as steep.

Fortunately, the weather is pleasant (75-80o?) and the constant wind wicks the moisture from our skin and clothing. There's no rain ... good when we are on mud paths - and there's no sun, either. It stays behind high clouds so it doesn't get too hot as we climb.

I've brought extra walking sticks along to share. We are all grateful for those sticks as we clamber around rocks and slip on the slick grass and loose mud.
What goes up must come down

Some Indonesians like statues,
like these above the entry to a hotel

Many holes have formed in the sidewalks, paving washed away in floods. These holes are a mere 3' deep. Most of us don't even notice that we're watching our steps. We automatically go around.

A farmer cuts wild grass for his sapi (cow). He bends double, bringing the grass on his back down the trail on a steep bank. (He thinks he might be carrying 25 kilos or 55 lbs.) He'll haul it to his house via motorcycle, but first he has to load it up.
"For one day, one cow."
Motorcycles do heavy lifting.

Cargo-motor with a load of grass

We eat lunch together at the Mandarin, a fairly good Chinese place. 

Around 7am, I stand in the rain for 15 minutes, waiting for the gal who is supposed to walk to exercises with me. It's drizzling so I wait under a tree. She doesn't come so I go home. We've had a lot of rain overnight but the day is pleasant, clouds swirling overhead as they cross the mountains.

I have a conference call that refreshes and informs me. Good counsel is such a blessing!

Read more:
*I rise before dawn and cry for help; I put my hope in your words. Psalm 119:147 ESV

*Jesus said, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36 ESV

*Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God's sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God's condemnation. Romans 5:1-9 NLT

Paul wrote: Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6 ESV
Moravian Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you that we are able to come to you with every concern and need. We place our confidence in you. Thank you for being our rock in all circumstances.
Dearest Lord, please be with us in the darkest hours of our lives when we have strayed from your will. Please forgive us and give us your love to show to those who come to us unloved. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye to 2016!

Stollen. No German Christmas is complete without it. Thanks, Mom!
Normally, I decorate our Christmas tree the day after American Thanksgiving and take it down on Canadian Boxing Day. But what is "normal" anymore? (And yes, it is my joy to decorate, not my husband's!)

Without the constriction of the 4th Thursday of November, the tree went up at mid-month. I wasn't ready to pack up after Christmas, either. (It was like the holiday hadn't quite happened yet.) 

But yesterday, after a gathering for neighbors to say goodbye to the past year, I'm done. I started putting things away when the last guest left.

This has been a week of thinking and planning. Looking back. Dreaming ahead. Scheduling and finding new ways to think about what we're learning. 
Hmm - does he ride in the 2-reindeer open sleigh,
hop on the bike ... or climb into the wheelbarrow?
I admit to hibernating a bit, processing. Of course we are glad to be here. By now it's home. But still ... how strange to spend our first Christmas away from the big-city friends nearby. Without any of our family or old friends. My heart felt lonesome, even with a full calendar.
8' between you and the neighbor? Build something
W is nearly finished writing a lectureship. He's been poring through theological texts. I edit the almost-done versions of his papers. I'm glad he knows how to auto-format footnotes and can write in good English. But theology is not my first love so I crank up music from Focus at Will while I read.
Checking the list twice: a peek inside from the porch, before neighbours arrive
Saturday, December 31, 2016
A part of culture shock is relearning how things are done. When cooking for 30 (or 50) without a dishwasher or other conveniences, good help is a godsend. On New Year's Eve, part-time helper IbuA brings her daughter to help her wash up and cook. 

By the time they arrive in the afternoon, I've made the main dishes. They cut fruit, wash vegetables, cook papaya leaves and red-berried bitter veggies, and make rice. There has to be rice, even with mashed potatoes, egg casserole, and other starches.

We relax in the company of our wonderful neighbors. Some visit in the house. Others sit on the porch, enjoying the breeze coming over the hill. It's been a hot dry week.

Villagers and city-folk alike are shooting off firecrackers (no regulations here!). The crack-crack echoes off the hills and punctuates our conversations.

We have too much food: nearly every guest brings along something. Afterward, "It's like shopping, isn't it?" laughs a dear friend as she and the other women load plastic bags with leftovers. That's another tradition here. Why cook tomorrow when a friend will share her bounty with you? We have plenty for another day, too.

The year in brief review: New friends. Monthly movie nights of 30-60. Lots of people over = a lot of cooking. Weekly gatherings to study Genesis, Exodus, Ruth, Proverbs, Mark, and Luke. (We read and observe together.) Conference calls and meetings. Team recruitment. Teaching in Indo, Singapore, and the Philippines. Language school. Parts of 4 months spent on USA citizenship issues. (W's interview is in 2 weeks.)
Admiring a beautiful silk batik scarf
Thanks for your prayers and partnership! We are looking forward to the new year and God's blessings on this city!

Read more:
*How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! For there the Lord ordained his blessing, life forevermore. Psalm 133:1,3
*Agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Corinthians 13:11, 13
Moravian Prayer: Almighty Father, we give you thanks for the blessing of another year. We ask for the Spirit to be in us as we start the new year. Thank you for your love, grace, and mercy. Amen.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas to you all!

A stuffed rabbit for a little girl who loves
bunnies: coming your way soon
This Christmas, we ponder with amazement the wonder of "God-with-us". How can our human minds grasp the mystery? And the cross-cultural shock of God leaving heaven to live among us? Such love. Such concern. And such power transforms our hearts.

When our hearts open to God's goodness, our behaviours and thoughts change as well. We move away from rule-keeping as part of religion and toward reflecting the very nature of our Good God, the One and Only.

And that's how we recognize who is doing God's will: is their heart surrendered to him? Then their every act will lean to gratitude, goodness, and peace toward others.

Thursday, December 22, 2016
we've come from below
We are so glad to be walking - and just minutes from our house, we pass through villages and enter jungle paths.
but what goes up must come down the steepest paths

Thousands of bottles lie beside the path (the local recycle pile)
We head for home after 2 hours and 5 miles of hills and uneven stairs. We spend most of the afternoon in town finishing Christmas preparations.
Stairs up and down in the middle of the store.
= for no reason
A family vehicle. Small child standing in front of parents
An industrial building ... missing
the front of a step at the landing.
Oh well.
A neighborhood lane: entry to a city village
One of two towers at the central mosque
My morning starts with a 7 a.m. walk with a wonderful neighbor. By 8, W and I are sitting with a dear couple and 16-mo-old Desmond, eating breakfast. Gypsy, our dog, is "parked" outside, his leash looped around a tree in the parking lot. W will give the security attendant about 15c (which we joke is the parkir anjing or dog-parking fee).

Desmond showing off his cute little teeth
This kid is so adorable.
A typical Indonesian breakfast
At 10, as I walk in the gate, I turn to see Dr H and her daughter Alice coming our way - great timing. We spend the next few hours talking while W works in his office, writing his lectures.

We get a note from our lovely friend Sumathi. Her husband and our dear friend Augustine has gone Home. Our hearts feel like breaking when we hear the news - we will never forget him, a kind gentleman who was an excellent professor and scholar. Prayers would be appreciated for Sumathi and the (grown) children, Adarsh and Amitha.

Saturday, Christmas Eve 2016
Today is a long work day. From 7-3, IbuA and I bake, cook, and clean for Christmas tomorrow. We make about 20 dozen cookies, cook curried sausage, meatballs in tomato sauce, 3-step chicken drumsticks (boil, bread and fry, and then glaze and bake in the oven for an hour), make a French Toast casserole, peel and soak about a dozen potatoes, and wash and chop vegetables.

After a quick nap, it's off to church for a candlelight service. We share 2 plates of cookies after service: they disappear. Everyone bring something to share and a generous man donates 12 Black Forest cakes! Wow - we cut cake and share it - and the pastor sends two home with us. (Will share it with our neighbors on New Year's Eve.)
We have no church service but W and I get ready for our guests. We don't know quite how many will come, but that's normal at our place. Yesterday before church, we had 11. After church, the count stood at 18. Today we have about 20.

DrW comes by with her grandchild. She leaves a set of pretty embroidered bags. (Indonesians are known for their handwork and creativity.)

I am so grateful when a sweet helper appears. Two gals are sleeping over and one does all the dishes. By the time she's done, the kitchen looks impressively ready for guests.
Thank you, Lela!
Friends from all over Bandung eat together, read the Story, sing carols, and chat through the afternoon. DrW from next door sends her helper over for 2 hours: dinner dishes reappear after the meal, washed and ready to be put away. (What a blessing and great Christmas surprise you are, Ibu Emi!) She goes home loaded with treats, of course.

Ibu Ingrid brings a wrapped red and black batik, which we open after everyone leaves. Beautiful.
W and I are so grateful to God for Jesus, our Savior, the precious gift that we celebrate each year. Though we miss our families, we are thankful for dear friends who enjoy the Presence with us.

To top off the evening, our daughter-in-law Melissa FaceTimes. The kids are up (6am their time), excited to see what Santa has brought them. Our hearts are warmed by the excitement of those cute little persons. 

"We love you. Merry Christmas!" we say to each other - an ocean apart, except for the blessing of technology. Before night falls, most of the family check in with each other.
One-a-day, from the first Advent Sunday to Christmas
Read more:
*The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 ESV
*All the ends of the earth shall turn to the Lord. Psalm 22:27
*The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. 1 Samuel 2:4
*Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Zechariah 4:6
*And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me- holy is his name. ... He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” Luke 1:46-49, 52-53
*[The angel said to the shepherds:] For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:11-14 KJV
*The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. John 1:9
*If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:38
Moravian Prayer: Light of the world, we pause to give you thanks for showing us the image of God through your presence. You lighten our dark world and enrich our lives through the fruits of the Holy Spirit. 
Creator of all that shall be, we’re blessed by your incarnation. Separated from you, alone and in darkness, we languished until you came, gave us good things, and lifted us up. Comfort us. Set our feet upon the path toward your kingdom. Amen.