Saturday, August 1, 2015

The first time in the Philippines

We're in Manilla but here are some pics from the week. Tomorrow we make the 6-hr drive to Baguio.

Thursday, July 30
To the top of Gunung Batu (Stone Mountain). Rock climbers get up the face. We walked up the path.

the spectacular view from the hilltop
Orange orchards behind us
Evening study at Bamboo Shack: Ruth 1
David and Paul S arrive at 9 from Jakarta. They're moving in upstairs. They're not sure how long they'll stay or what they want to do, beyond language school - probably that's enough! They start school in a week, 4 blocks from the house.

W and I pack between breakfast and lunch with the S's at Miss Bee. The trip to the airport is stop-and-go. It has W in knots due to the "Jakarta syndrome" (weekend holiday in Bandung for Jakartans). We have to check in 45 minutes before the flight.

We are out of time: we hop out of the car a block or two from the airport and drag our luggage up the street and into check-in. W leaves the passport photocopy at the desk and goes back from security to retrieve it. But soon we're settled. I'm always breathless and a little fuzzy from the stress.

When we get to the tarmac to walk to our plane, the guard puts up his hand to stop us from crossing. A jet screams by, driving toward the runway. Really?! Everyone waits. I plug my ears until it passes.
Man, that's loud! (and close)

The trip is uneventful though the food is not good (Asian Rice-ish with little chicken saté sticks). In Kuala Lumpur, we grab a snack and settle in. The plane is late coming in and so we're 1 1/2 hours late in boarding.
A display of lights in the KL Airport, left over from Ramadan
We leave after 10pm. When the boarding announcement is made, W and I jump up; for whatever reason, we're always in a hurry to get in line. 

The inflatable pillow that makes long flights bearable falls behind the lounge seat. I find out the minute I sit down on the plane. I go to the front and ask to get the attendants to get it for me. The door tech calls the lounge, but no they "haven't seen it." Can they look for it please? "We can't find it." 

I leave the plane to ask the gate attendant to get it for me but the attendants tell me to come back. "We are boarding and ready to leave." Sure. Sure. We sit at the gate for another 20 minutes but no one looks for the pillow. How irritating. I can see it in the corner of my memory, dropping behind the seat as we hastily stood up. Next time, I'll let W dive into line; I'll check around me before joining him. (The rush is only imagined anyway.)

After the flight, I hand the chief attendant a note with my email and a request that they "notify me where we can pick up the pillow next week, left at Gate Q5" ... since they wouldn't let me get it myself. Probably, we'll have to order another.
W sleeps most of the last flight but I drift off, wake again, and look at my watch. Only 10 minutes have passed. I try again and give up. Yay for Kindle reader. And my back is sore.
It's 3am when the flight discharges us in Manila. The driver is holding a piece of paper with our names on it. We apologize for the awfulness of the hour.
"Don't worry. We are often late here," he says. And brings us to the door of the guest house along winding roads and construction zones. Lilian has to wake up and get towels ready. "Oh, it is August! I wasn't expecting you today." But here we are. We are in bed by 4am.

W is up for breakfast at 9. He wakes me as he gets dressed but I doze for another half hour. The oatmeal and toast hit the spot. (Thanks, Lilian!) We have a bit of class prep and clearing emails before we walk a few blocks to find lunch. 

We spot a Chili's restaurant, just like in the States. We at there only a few times in Seattle, but it sounds good today. We have a salad and pork belly. Tasty but not energy producing. 

"If you don't have much time, go only one place, the Green Hills complex," we've been told. We hail a taxi, which gets stuck in traffic. The interconnected buildings contain small specialty stalls, department stores, chain brands, theaters, food courts, a museum - and even a chapel. We've seen more churches in a day than we've seen in a year in Indonesia.

The beautiful indoor-outdoor chapel at the mall
We stay for a few hours, walking about 3 miles. We come away with a jar of horseradish (score! for W who's been craving it in Indonesia) and a few odds and ends for travel. There is so much American stuff - brands, smooth sidewalks, and people driving in their lanes.

A couple of girls dancing to karaoke films in the mall
The lady before W in the checkout line divides her purchases
 in 3 and uses 3 separate gift cards 
We decide to walk home because it will take just as long to sit in traffic in a car. "It's not far," W says. "Maybe 2 miles." That sounds good (but I should know better by now. Haha.)

Darkness falls along the way; there are few people walking in the 88oF (31oC) smog. Lanes and lanes of cars stand and creep along. The same ones pass us again and again even though we go into a few bike shops and see some nice dining chairs in the furniture stores lining the streets. We put 16,100 steps on our soles before we reach our door, hot and sticky.

Read more:
*It is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another. Psalm 75:7 ESV

*You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word. Psalm 119:114 ESV

*Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, your judgments are true and just! Revelation 16:7 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Oh Lord, you are God almighty. You alone are judge of our hearts and souls. May we be set free from our habit of fulfilling our own wills. May we thirst, instead, for your counsel. Amen.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Surprises, good and bad

On my desk: tea for fuel,
a laptop for writing / studies,
and temporarily, my trusty Bernina
Midweek, recovering from a few surprises.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015
We can't find the previous landlord's house. We've left an hour's time to deliver a letter of intent: he owes us several "free" months by law for time the house was uninhabitable. We're asking permission to extend the old lease for one month, though not gratis, as our contract states. If we don't hear back, we'll assume that's okay.

The family who is covering our remaining lease needs another month before the house across the street is available. They are willing to pay the extra month's rent to the landlord, who plans to repair the house to rent it in good condition for the next tenants. (That extra rent should cover most of the cost of a new roof.)

New parents
But ... we drive around for an hour and can't find the house - up and down, in back alleys for possible ways to find a hidden driveway.

We give up and enjoy the next thing on our schedule. Pascal and Yunnie have had a healthy baby boy, Desmond! We are beyond thrilled. "For this child I prayed," said Hannah, Samuel's mother (1 Samuel 1:20).

And so it is with Desmond. The first time we met, we asked the couple if there was anything for which we could pray. They mentioned trying for years to have a child. God intervened in answer to prayers.

Welcome to the world, baby Desmond!
Desmond is a beautiful!!! (handsome?) boy. His even features and tiny hands and feet attest to a healthy pregnancy and his arrival via C-section. Poor mama, who is sore but recovering without complications.

W find directions online to the landlord ... in a want-ad description = enter the driveway from another street and the gate is behind a small shop. The landlord's driver takes the envelope through the bars of the gate.

One more errand: we haggle for 2 guest beds and mattresses. The price, including a third mattress, is less than one bed-frame costs in the mall. When we get home, W cuts the foam to shape for a chaise.

But first, lunch is waiting. IbuA has made white rice and a curry-ish combo of meats for us and the workers. IbuA's "cook's touch" makes her food taste delicious. We add sembal to kick the heat up a notch and toss in raw veges from our Tupperware "salad bar" assortment.

Each day, we feed whoever happens to be at the house. IbuA's husband, a handyman, has been around for the past week, building a bookshelf for the office, doing maintenance, and installing the shower in the back bathroom.

The driver comes most days. His family depends on his salary even when there's not much to do. His mom is supposed to have surgery this week. Please pray for that there will be a hospital bed available and that the surgeon is prepared. Her last hospital visit ended abruptly after she was prepped for surgery, with, "Not enough blood in the blood bank, so go home and we'll reschedule after Ramadan."

Our kitchen, ready for action.
Do you recognize the Tupperware
round, by the rice cooker?
We cut the days of one helper when we don't have teams upstairs. This woman is the sole breadwinner of her family so we don't lay her off completely. (Her husband is between jobs.) Survival can be a struggle for non-contract workers. Helpers / handymen / service workers typically work at as many places as they can. When a friend calls today, asking if I know a pembantu looking for part-time work, I refer this helper to her. (Both our helpers are part-timers; the other also works for another family.)

In the evening we get a shock. Our daughter texts that she's fallen in the Seoul subway and is in ER - her head is split open to the bone (eyebrow to hairline) and she will need stitches. We are glad no bones are broken but worry and pray together. We call the "big guns" for prayer, her grandmas, for whom it is 6am on the other side of the world.

A daughter who loves Korea
Our friends respond with prayers and encouragement via email and FB. K adds: "I have a headache, but otherwise am not too sore. Please pray that I can sleep." We update everyone.

Details emerge. K was on the way to supper with a new friend when her foot caught on the stair in the subway. She texts her friend, a young Dutch expat, who rushes to the ER and stays until K is released to go home. K can understand enough Korean to hear that the bone is exposed. She waits while the plastic surgeon finishes with someone else.

Another of God's provisions: the friend accompanies K to her room at the hostel, orders pizza when K is able to eat (she's nauseated), and makes sure K is not concussed. Late at night, she heads home.

On our side of the world, I've measured and sewn a chaise slipcover for the recut foam block. When the kids were home (hint-hint, I was younger), I configured patterns, made decisions, and whipped fabric into clothing or household items - in a snap. We saved a lot over the years as DIY-ers.

We found a chaise 'sample' in the back of
a furniture shop months ago. Now it's covered.
The old LR sofa sits beside it.
Our guests love to sit outside.
But today I stand and look and think and ... it's frustrating to take so much time.

"Is this what people think is normal?" I ask W. (Friends used to ask why things went so quickly.) It takes me more than a half-hour to cut into the canvas dropcloth fabric I packed along from Seattle when we moved here a year ago.

My trusty Bernina buzzes over 6 layers of canvas and the zipper around a corner and keeps going. I use a few scraps to make a rice heating pad for K. It smells better than a hot water bottle! after its trial run in the microwave.

I sew and pray. Fit and pray. The cover and two bolster cases are loose but well-shaped. If we had hot water for the washing machine, I'd toss them in for a perfect fit. But here laundry is done in cold water. Oh well.

W sets up the guest beds and I cover them. It takes a while to sort out bedding between the upstairs and other storage.  We're expecting guests from Europe and elsewhere between teaching assignments this fall.

W assembles a powder-blue industrial shelf as a night table. We try to acquire multi-purpose things or stuff with ongoing usefulness.

Ready for company.
Our friend are expected Friday, in preparation for starting language school. We'll get back from teaching in the Philippines in time for our daughter's arrival.

I might as well prep everything tonight while we're praying for K. I'm too wound up to sleep anyway. By midnight, the beds upstairs are ready and the place is clean.

Feels good to lay down.

Read more:
*I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul will make its boast in the Lord; The humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. Psalm 34:1-3 NASB

*We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks! For your wondrous works declare that your name is near. Psalm 75:1 NKJV

*Joyfully give thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. Colossians 1:12 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Father, we give you thanks for all the joys and blessings in our lives. The presence of your beautiful creation surrounds us and we are grateful! Amen.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Tasting the city

The courtyard at Ethnic Resto: reflecting pool and all
The weekend's come and gone.

Saturday, July 25, 2015
We need a good internet connection to download information before we teach in the Philippines. So we order $3 breakfasts at Ethnic, a nearby restaurant with a quicker network than we have at home.

It's not a high-end place though it has a typical tropical setting. I bought big-leaf plants when we lived in Seattle to mimic tropical style. Here the plants, the dark wood trim, and the open rooms are the real deal.

Our order of Chinese soup - and
noodles ordered half sweet, half salty
We get news that a little boy baby has arrived. Mama and baby are doing well. Our Indonesian friends asked us to pray that God would give them a child after years of waiting. Within weeks, IbuY found out she was expecting. God answered prayers! We'll visit them early next week. So exciting!

W wrenches his knee on the hike. He's still favoring it in the morning but it heals up within a day.

Dr Hanna comes for tea before church and picks up the IKEA picture rails we brought her from Jakarta. By 9:15, we're sitting in the service. Several hashers (walk/run group) show up, too. We chat with many people when the meeting is dismissed.

Afterwards, Dr. H and her trainee introduce us to an old favorite: Rumah Makan Ahon, a Chinese-Indo café. The place has been handed down from father to son but still serves great meals. The son ladles the soup into our bowls.

Friends and good food!
"You want it without intestines, right?" Dr H asks us. Yes, please. We get beef ribs. "Not too fatty," our friend notes approvingly.

The next treat lies across the street: Dr H takes us to a famous shop that makes smoked beef. We choose two rind pieces for soup broth and the clerk cuts another section into thin slices. (We don't bring pork into the house because our helper is strictly Muslim: this will have to sub for bacon flavor.)

Waldemar stays in town to find electronic cables, catching the angkot bus back. Dr. H shows me her art wall (where W hung paintings last week) and then she takes me back to our place.

Original artwork
We have to pick up plumbing supplies in the SE side of Bandung so we leave the house at 8am. While we're in the car, Matt calls us from our house and we direct him to the Bamboo Shack. Six of us discuss Mark 4 -- Jesus calming the storm with a simple, "Hush!"

Then we drop Sumathi and Amanda, a college freshman, at the seminary before driving up on of Bandung's many steep hills. We're hungry so before we run out errand, it's time for lunch.

We walk into Homestay and Makanan Bunda (Mother's Homestay and Food), in honor of the Bunda family who stayed with us last month. Our driver warns that the food will be full of chilies. That's fine with us: we like the heat. He has eaten while we were studying; he locks up the car and sits on the shaded side of the street to wait for us.

The food server places a handful of dishes onto the table, along with a lunch plate holding a scoop of white rice for each person. Fish. Chicken. Beef. Green beans with chili seeds. And more, all fried.

We'll pay for whatever we eat: the rest goes back into common serving bowls. Those shared dishes felt iffy when we first arrived in Indonesia. (Who has had those plates on the table or put their fork into the dish before we did?) Now we don't care. Just feed us. Thank you. Tastes good.

My phone is dead so I can't take pictures. The dishes start out hot from cooking. But by the time customers eat, the food is at room temperature. The bowls are stored unheated and unrefrigerated in the window; passersby can see what the cook has prepared. Flies buzz around and we shoo them away.

I choose 2 spicy chewy slices of Rendang (spicy-hot coconut beef). I also taste a meat-like something, soft and white in a yellow curry. Ummm, the curry tastes okay but I don't know what is in it. I pass it to W who finishes the curry-ish meat and a piece of tiny chicken. Turns out the mystery meat is not tofu but beef brain.

"Now you've added what the cow learned to everything else you know!" I exclaim, laughing. He winces and groans.

The style of dishes: an assortment from which to choose
This is our third attempt to find a resource center - and our first success. The small room is tucked off a narrow dead-end lane, up an uneven flight of tiled stairs, and down a hallway. We find a few paperbacks, including two on understanding and serving local women. Sold.

A few streets away, we stop to haggle over two single beds for the empty guest room. (A couple of guests can share the room or a husband and wife can push them together for a king-sized sleep.) The delivery guys arrive within minutes of our homecoming. They jump out to set up the beds.

"No thank you, I'll put them together," W says, handing the two young men a few dollars to buy coffee. He has been storing his tools on the guest room floor. He'll put those away before setting up the beds.

As soon as the gate shuts behind the delivery van, W rushes away to participate in the Monday hash. I'd planned to go but am exhausted from running around the city. I choose to stay home to study.

I also watch Indonesian TV. It's weird to attempt to follow a storyline when I understand one word out of 50 (or 100). I keep looking up words on Google Translate but I don't really know what's going on. The words are becoming more familiar though.

Read more:
*Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge. Psalm 17:7 ESV

*Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62:8 ESV

*The Lord is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds. Psalm 145:13 ESV

*This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. 1 John 3:16 NIV

*This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14 NIV

Moravian Prayer: Dearest Lord, we seek your answers to our prayers always. We know that you answer us, sometimes in ways we do not expect. Lord, help us to be patient, to listen, and to understand that your will is above ours.

God, you gave your son for us so that our sins might be forgiven! May we honor you and work daily to increase your kingdom so others may experience your love and grace! Amen.

C.S. Lewis, on Forgiveness, in The Weight of Glory:
When it comes to a question of our forgiving other people, it is partly the same and partly different. It is the same because, here also, forgiving does not mean excusing. Many people seem to think it does. They think that if you ask them to forgive someone who has cheated or bullied them you are trying to make out that there was really no cheating or no bullying. But if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive.

They keep on replying, “But I tell you the man broke a most solemn promise.” Exactly: that is precisely what you have to forgive. (This doesn’t mean that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart—every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.) The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Macet between study days

On this first Friday after Ramadan, the chorus of Muslim prayers have been ricocheting off the hillsides all morning. We're not sure if there's a special post-celebration day or what. Morning prayers at 4, 9, and noon are the norm.

The display at a local grocer,
paper maché camel included
This week we called our granddaughter for her 4th birthday in Seattle and our sis-in-law for her (mumble mumble) birthday in Switzerland. Some days we feel the separation more than others.

We have to drive to Jakarta and get an early start at 6:30 am. It's not early enough. Within an hour, we're stuck in macet or traffic. It takes 5 hours to get to IESJakarta - so we are late for staff meeting.

Where we were ...
About 20 pastors, staff, and interns gather to worship, give reports, and share prayer requests. One of the highlights for me is Pastor Oyan's liturgy - it's comforting and uplifting to pray the prayers of history with a group today. But we come too late to enjoy it today.

Beautiful central Jakarta
It's Pastor Dave's last meeting before a sabbatical. He demonstrates leadership and empowerment in a few ways = always good demonstrations for W and me as we start IESBandung. How grateful we are to be part of a great team. The staff is always welcoming - and lunch (noodles, HURRAH) is delicious. W picks up some electronics brought back from Seattle by our friends, the Bramonos.

We have a few more errands - including a stop at IKEA to buy picture shelves for Dr H - before we drive back to Bandung.

Dr W has a slough of coupons from spa specials and takes me along for a facial Wednesday. Nice! The sun is very hard on my fair complexion though I slather on sunblock each morning. It takes a while for the cream to absorb. Until then, I look a ghostly blue-white from the zinc or whatever's in the sunblock.

Night tea-time
It's mostly a study day but late in the evening we get a cup of tea at a little hole-in-the-wall friends told us about Sunday. A darling little boy runs up and down and hugs family members as they arrive. The children of Indonesia are beautiful.

See why it's called Star Mountain? We're almost there.
The group does a good walk. No part is too steep though we have a few long uphill climbs to the "Star Mountain" (Bumi Bintang). We overlook the valleys in awe: God's world is stunning.

A restaurant (right) is perched on concrete block "stilts" above the valley 
The trails are dusty and slippery. Three of us tumble onto the ground today - S falls twice, I go to my knee once, and just before we reach the cars, Mariska does a double flip and wrenches her knee. She limps to the car and ices the knee over lunch.

Taking in the view, but we leave
when we are charged $2 to sit there
Lunch is at The Stag, a faux-British, kind-of-clubby restaurant. Nine assorted chandeliers hang from the ceiling peak, white plaster animal heads decorate the walls, and at least four different wall-finishes (brick, plaster, faux copper paint, etc.) compete for our attention. A bit busy at lunchtime and they don't have the Australian dessert we want to try. (It's kosong, or zero / out.) But the other food is okay.

Walking back through the fields
We're at DrW's for cookies and sweets in the afternoon. So is the Johnson family, staying at our first house next door. They're back after 2 months in Texas. They've resumed language school and are becoming quite adept at using Indonesian (which makes my own lack of progress even more frustrating.)

We enjoy time with DrW - she's an interesting and educated lady whose friendship encourages and welcomes us in the neighborhood.

Read more:
*I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained. Jeremiah 30:19 NIV

*When I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. Micah 7:8 ESV

*Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” Matthew 13:31–32 ESV

*Christ says, “I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.” John 12:46 NEV

*Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not covet," and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans13:8-10 NIV

Moravian Prayer: Blessed Father, we rejoice in your abounding love! Help us to grow in faith each and every day and to share that faith with those who remain in the dark.

Precious Lord Jesus, your light is a beacon for all! Let us share the warmth of your light as we encounter others throughout our daily lives. Help us to share your love with all people! Amen.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Proceed with caution: re-reading a journal

In the predawn darkness, I unearth a journal, written during our the last year in Seattle. I stashed the book in the bottom of the office cabinet as we moved into this house.

I open the journal to the first blank page and write and write as though gasping for air. All the ideas I've held in. All the feeling I can't say aloud. It feels like ... relief.

Then I flip back through our last year of travel and shedding a familiar life. I've recorded my fears and my hopes for the future. My sadness at leaving the family - parents, children, grandchildren present and future, and friends. Will we be forgotten? Will we lose touch? Will our feet land on the ground?

A loose page flutters in the book so I pull it out. On one side is a checklist for W, building out the basement of our home. I titled it, "BEFORE DECOR: W'S JOBS": kitchen counters, dining cabinets, painting, install the bathroom sink and mirror.

On the other side of the paper is a list of things I am giving away or selling: books, food, chairs, a table, teapots, artwork, candles, a toddler rocking horse. I remember the items on the list as though I'm touching them again. Letting them slip between my fingers so I can open my hands and heart to Indonesia.

If wishes were horses,
then beggars would ride ... and
this Oma would get to hug her grandchildren
I've also written down the furnishings I need to finish out the basement. I will find them on Freecycle, Craigslist, and at IKEA. [When done, we have a lovely livable space to enjoy for 9 months.]

In the journal I read my grief at what we are leaving behind. But also anticipation for what lies ahead.

Here in Indonesia, the next weeks are crammed full of opportunities and obligations. But this morning, I pause in a house empty of guests.

I regroup. Mourn. Laugh. Plan. And I write. Always write.

God is faithful.

Read more:
*The Lord will bless his people with peace. Psalm 29:11 NKJV

*Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 ESV

*Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1 ESV

*So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. Ephesians 2:19 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Most precious Lord and Savior, give us the faith of a child to see your light in our lives so that we might experience and share your peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.

C. S. Lewis: from Mere Christianity
We begin to notice, besides our particular sinful acts, our sinfulness; begin to be alarmed not only about what we do, but about what we are. This may sound rather difficult, so I will try to make it clear from my own case. 

When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself. 

Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? 

If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.

Friday, July 17, 2015

What happens in a day?

Meetings and time with friends
May I explain a bit about our life in Indonesia? Perhaps some of you wonder, “What do you do?” or “How is it going?” and “How do you stay busy without office hours?” (Ah, yes. Yes we do have lots to do.)

·      We get up early, between 5:30 and 7am.

·      Breakfast: you might or might not recognize the food, depending on the morning. Sometimes it’s toast or bread and cheese. I bake bread that tastes better to us that the fluffy store-bought breads (think Wonderbread Light). During Ramadan we fast breakfast to remind us to pray for our friends and neighbors.

Video capture along the way
·      We read / study scripture together. This gives us a foundation for life, relationships, and lectures.

·      Our helper comes from 8-3. Her arrival always feels early. We’re dressed and have the gate unlocked. I make sure there is food to cook for lunch and give instructions for the day’s chores.

Note: A helper is not a mere luxury, hired "because I’m too lazy" to do housework. Why hire help to do the chores we've done?

Neighborhoods with history
1. Every household that can afford a helper supports a family. Hiring locals is an economic necessity. There’s no government welfare for the unemployed. Families work together to support each other. (Generations live together, and grown children’s wages pay for meds and special needs of aging parents, aunts and uncles, etc.) We buy more groceries than we can eat: extra food prepared for lunch goes home with the helper. In fact, not having a helper is considered greedy, as it withholds resources from a family that depends on them.

2. Here, helpers do much of the work our conveniences and household machines do at home.

There’s minimal prepared food available so most meals are cooked from scratch. Our helper makes lunch only. (Breakfast and supper are simple: I cook when we eat in.) We don’t have dishwashers or clothes dryers. Every food item and dish is washed by hand. All clothing has to be ironed. No one walks around rumpled unless they are homeless!
The neighborhood warung where a lady
cooks a noodles or rice supper for $1.50.

3. We learn the culture and language from our helpers. Indonesians are friendly and hospitable. We’ve been to family and community events at their invitation.

·      The driver comes at 9 most weekdays (negotiable). Many people have live-in drivers or have drivers who work from 7am until late at night. Our driver stays as long as we need him, whether for a few meetings or mails items at the post office, picks up parcels, helps outside, etc.

Our driver has a university education and speaks some English. He helps us understand the city and culture. Here, it’s not a matter of “run to the store” and come back to continue working. Because traffic is congested, an errand takes at least a few hours. A driver finds the most efficient routes, parks the car, and picks us up, saving hours each week. 

Having a driver not only provides for another family, but also protects us when accidents occur. Definitely not "if" but "when" collisions happen! Things work very differently here: liability depends on perspective rather than law. In the past, riots have started after foreigners were perceived (usually incorrectly) as at fault.

We were driving ourselves around until last month. The focus on the road meant time in the car was stressful and a waste of time. We still walk when we can and W drives many evenings.

·      The day picks up from there. We visit hospitals to see sick friends, have lunch or dinner meetings, speak to groups, or run errands. We prep courses we will teach. For university courses, we plan to study a minimum of 4-7 hours per hour of classroom time. That adds up to a lot of preparation for each 35-40 hour class.

Community kitchen
We host people at home. We have a lot of people over, and teams or families may live with us for days or weeks. A lot of people come over. This year, I’d guess 200-300 people have come here for meals. Sometimes the helper helps, but I usually cook – and when she’s gone, I clean up (sometimes with W’s help).

Thank God for a big house. There are several bedrooms upstairs. We set up a second kitchen so guests can prepare some of their own meals. (Or I’d just be cooking and cleaning rather than teaching or working!)

I love to fit a space to make it functional and beautiful. This house has the solid bones of a commercial building. As you’ve read in previous posts, it has been FUN to set up – décor is relaxing for me. It’s a relief to be here – after +7 months in a wooden house which was infested with termites. 

We’re not quite done – we need some beds, mattresses, and bedding, We don’t yet have dining chairs (we borrow stools from upstairs when we host more than 4 people) and we need other furniture. We carefully look for good prices and well-built items, bit by bit.

When night falls, the guava trunk
in the yard looks amazing.
We also have a lot of meetings in restaurants and homes. Here everything is built on relationships. We walk with groups twice a week (though often we miss for other meetings), lead studies, and host several weekly gatherings.

·      By evening, we’re tired. We’ve begun to sleep through the calls to prayer at 4am.

When we’re home, that’s how it goes. We travel to teach and speak and for visas. We are so glad to be here, loving the people and our city.

We're anticipating guests who will contribute their skills and services to the people of Indonesia. So, when are you coming?

Read more:
*Who are they that fear the Lord? He will teach them the way that they should choose. Psalm 25:12 ESV

*For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew
first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 ESV

*Follow God’s example as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us. Ephesians 5:1–2 NIV

Moravian Prayer: Lord, you are our great example. Help us to love one another just as you love us. Amen.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A lot of hot water and laughter

Indonesia is beautiful.
Our waterfall destination:
Cibareubey in Cibeusi
I'm glad the dishes are washed. After 3 hours of kitchen cleanup on Tuesday and 5 hours on Wednesday, only a final few dirty escapees sit in the kitchen sink this morning.

Normally, our household help takes care of dishes in the morning, so I can visit with company. However, local workers are off for the week. They're hosting end-of-Ramadan celebrations with their families. During Ramadan, women get up at 3am to cook so their families can eat by 4:30. The gals are exhausted and everything has moved more slowly for a month.

I'm reluctant to use disposable plates: they create huge bags of garbage and we don't have waste pickup at our place. We've been dropping our trash in our old house's garbage bin for pickup but the family co-leasing that place returns this weekend. Our helper drops the garbage over the wall into the jungle. UGH. It's an ugly truth about the city: there's garbage everywhere. Baggies and wrappers get dropped on the ground so there's a lot of litter. As stewards of God's earth, we try to minimize our addition to the problem.

Bundas have arranged to meet a family here for supper (= 3 families around the table - guests, upstairs team, and us). We're eager to get to know this couple and their two kids. The wife works at a local school and the husband manages Compassion International - a Christian organization helping children thrive. Check out their website. 

Eyes on the crowded and chaotic roads,
what a blessing Pak Asep is to us.
They arrive after work at 7pm. What troopers! Luckily supper is ready, beef rendang with veges and rice. Laura's made dessert cookies and brings little jello cups to finish off the meal.

The kids head upstairs together (thank you God for a house with space!) while the adults talk about aspects of children's work. I listen in on the conversation from the kitchen sink. (We're getting up early tomorrow and I'm too tired to get up at 6 to wash dishes - or stay up until midnight.) I pull on rubber gloves and think: "Today I will choose "Martha." Someone has to cook and clean so people have something to eat. But Jesus was right - Mary's part of the story is better if you have the choice. Hanging out and listening is a lot more fun."

Our normal Thursday walk comes a day early: Thursday starts the holiday celebrations for the end of Ramadan. Drivers, helpers, and locals will head to their families all over Indonesia so social and ministry events are changed or limited whenever possible. Stores and tourist attractions are closed or on limited hours.

One of many vistas on our walks
Sumathi and Bridget arrive early at the house so we can drive together. We meet the others nearby at 8. W comes with us but he gets sore feet from standing (which also makes shopping together a pain).

We're a small group today
with most members traveling
It's worth the hike among pauses. After 20 minutes of steep uphill on slippery (dusty) soil, we enjoy a fairly level walk. Off and on, I swat at huge wasps that buzz me. They seem attracted to my wide-brimmed maroon sunhat.

Smoked palm sugar juice poured from a natural pitcher
Huge ferns unfolding
Our destination: a tall waterfall that plunges into a gorge and drains off into fields and streams down the valley. Tea plantations stretch along the hillsides. Mountain boulders and makeshift bamboo bridges span the creeks.

Wind-tousled but going strong on the
bamboo steps cut into a dirt hillside
Our shoes get wet on the on-again, off-again path along a clear stream; sometimes little stepping stones and a crumbling concrete walkway are all that lie between the stream and the drop-off on the other side.

Step over the chasm (where the slope falls away)
from the trail onto a make-shift bridge.
Then step back up and carry on.
In another spot, the bridge was rolling
lengths of bamboo, loosely lashed together
Angela is our tour guide. She's traveling back to Germany soon and has appointments in the city so she takes the dog back with her when we're dusty and done.

We take a chance on an old hot spring that turns out to be recently renovated. We eat a late lunch and soothe our tired feet for an hour on the way home.

It's 5pm when we get back to the house. Oh, oh, our guests are due in an hour. I toss the walking poles in a corner and throw our dirty clothes into the hamper. Off to the kitchen at once!

Bundas text us from town. Do we need anything? "Yes please, do bring back more ground beef and chicken and sausages." Apparently 20-ish people are coming tonight. Friends and friends of friends. Perfect. One of the gals from our walking group will bring her husband and son.

The Bundas stand in a grocery checkout that Paul notes is "like Christmas Eve." Everyone's shopping for Idul Fitr.

W sets up the projector for movie night and fires up the barbecue. He's testing his Weber grill for the first time ($50 used, found in Singapore). I've got the hamburgers, sausages, and serving plates ready for him. The cheese doesn't melt but curls up on the burgers when heated. It's nice to do part of the cooking outside and the smoke keeps the mosquitoes at bay.

Bridget changes into one of my blouses (Canadian mauve or light purple - it's your color, B!) and digs in with meal prep. She says she enjoys housework (!) and is a big help. Meanwhile, Pak Asep takes Sumathi home and comes back through awful traffic to hang out with the other young people arriving for the evening.

By the time everyone gets here, the table is groaning with 2 kinds of rice, vegetables, a salad bar, bread, fixings for hot dogs and burgers, and a spontaneously created egg-bread-sausage quiche. W prays over the meal and everyone digs in. (I bag the scanty leftovers for guests during cleanup.)

By 8:15, W starts The Princess Bride, tonight's movie. It's a success - but intermission is hilarious. W had purchased packets of seasoning for French fries. He decides to try one out as popcorn flavoring with a "new method," for which he snags our best stainless mixing bowl. I'm reluctant from the outset: burning the bowl on the gas stovetop seems a distinct possibility.

Yup, the whole thing goes up in smoke and stinks up the house. Oven mitts, measuring cups, and wrappers are strewn over the countertop. A fan purges the air and I resort to making popcorn the old way, tidying as I go.

Goofing around. The only shot with (at least part of) everyone in it.
Except for two hitches. I try the seasoning sprinkled on popcorn that's laced with peanut oil and melted butter. The fine powder evades the lid as I shake it to mix, causing the entire kitchen crew (2 guys who've taken over popping the popcorn, plus Bridget and me) to choke and cough. We get the popcorn to the table and

... hack, hack. Whoever eats the popcorn is coughing! When the powder hits the upper palate, it travels up the nose and down the throat - and the person starts to cough. Everyone tries it a few times. Bridget and I, standing in the kitchen together, seize up with laughter every time someone starts to cough. It helps to be relaxed as a host - you never know what's going to happen.

Including the second glitch. The popcorn maker begins to come apart. We could only find one popcorn maker in town - at ACE Hardware. Today the popcorn maker melts and the chimney separates, tossing kernels onto the floor and into the bowl. (Refunds are reluctantly given, if ever. Let's see if ACE will replace this thing. We have enough company to serve popcorn fairly often.)

"I thought maybe you had trick popcorn," one guy exclaims. Nope, wouldn't do that to our guests! but it turns into a huge joke. Everyone exclaims at the good flavor and resists my tossing it out. We make a few more batches of plain popcorn with butter, salt, and sugar. Laura's cookies are a hit. By this time, the room has warmed up and people are laughing and talking.

One last shot before saying goodbye
The group settles back to watch the rest of the movie. After introductions all around, Waldemar prays a blessing of peace over them and their families. They hang around until nearly midnight.

While W drives two guests home, Paul and Laura take the porch furniture back outside. Laura kindly vacuums the LR before heading upstairs.

I finish drying my hands as W walks back in the door. Table cleared. Check. Kitchen floor washed. Check. Dishes put away. Check. Hands wrinkled. Check. Definitely time for bed.

Read more:
*Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. Psalm 146:3 ESV

*From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.  He said: "In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me.

"I said, 'I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.' The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever.' 
But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit. When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. 

"Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God's love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, Salvation comes from the Lord."

And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. Jonah 2:1-10 NIV

*Jesus said, “If one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” Matthew 15:14 ESV

Moravian Prayer: God of light, so many times we reject your ways and seek comfort in earthly treasures. Help us, gracious One, to see your way and your light. Amen.