Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Of mice, men, and meetings (sorta)

Saturday, September 15, 2016
World Cleanup Day is today. W's finds the last rat in the glue trap this morning - after it crunched around and he spied it with his flashlight. It was sitting on our window ledge last night. It had the beadiest eyes in the light near the ceiling. When he got close, it squirted through a crack in the windowsill outside. Today it is no more.

W and DrW head to clean up the neighborhood - while I work on our talks. I have a 9am-noon commitment at Stamford, a local international school. Three of us are judging a storytelling contest.

"It will probably last 2-2.5 hours," read the email. "Come at 9:30." (This morning, I get a WA that I'll be met there at 9.)

There's no telling what traffic is like; I head out at 8:30 and no one is on the upper road. I'm there before 9. The organizer gives me and the other two the rubric for grading. We read the upper primary scripts and grade them. Then we wait for the older group to write and submit their radio scripts. The kids are working in groups; some of the writing is quite interesting.

While we wait, we tell rat stories - some have had rodents share the bed. Rats make nests here and there. We talk about how best to trap and rid our houses of rodents. It's funny. And gross. And something we all have in common - they squeeze in from the garden, from neighbors, and from - who knows where.

Since we have guests for lunch at the house at 1:00, I tell the organizer I will be leaving at noon. "Oh my," she says. The speeches haven't even started at 11:50, when we are introduced to participants in the auditorium a few minutes before 12:00. I smile, wave, and leave on time.

We love having people over - and these two and their almost-2-yr-old are favorites. We've hugged a lot of Sundays, but visiting together makes the friendship deepen and even more special.

It's a typical busy Sunday morning. The children's leaders are ill so it turns into Family Sunday - all together in the auditorium. The service leader is stuck in Jakarta with a broken car so W steps up to lead the service. He calls the children up to the front and tells a Bible story before the main talk.

Scott and Sarah assemble a team to lead worship.

Today Josh is the main speaker. He recruits two girls to read from the Old and New Testaments. They are gifted with clear voices.

We join a big group at Miss Bee. Oh yum - good food as always. We share noisy conversations and a lot of laughter around the table.

In the afternoon, another guest arrives at the house, which means more tea, a few cookies. I'm so thankful for IbuA who keeps baking, week after week. The four old square Tupperware boxes are refilled and emptied, one after another.

A week ago Thursday, we called a mobile dog groomer was supposed to come over. We've had four cancellations or postponements.

Today, he calls that he is thought he was here, but is lost - he went to another part of town with a smilier address to ours. He promises to come the next Thursday. It's his last chance; our poor standard poodle is shaggy and needs a trim. You can't let poodles go too long without grooming. Since Cocoa gets a run in the hills every week, she gathers dust! She and Gypsy now happily own the yard. And she loves being brushed out.

Meeting day. W takes the train to Jakarta at 5am. He's got a committee meeting. My day starts later: a 7am conference call before our 9:30 study. Several study participants arrive before 9: last week started early and they're still on track for that. We don't mind - our porch is a great place to visit and hang out.

Today we have guests from Germany joining new attendees and regulars. I love the interaction - and the conversations around scripture. It's fun to explore from many personal viewpoints, past experiences, and varied worldviews.

After, we have our team lunch upstairs - and then Clau and I head out for another meeting with Mr S on some empty land.  There may be an interesting project in the works. Life is never dull - but I'm glad to get home before 5:00.

I wake early - and by 4:30 the Muslim chants are at full volume. We usually sleep through them but this morning there are several new voices resounding across the valley from the next hill. Some of the speakers have beautiful cadences - some are high-pitched, some are low and rumbling. They don't last long: after 15 minutes, all is quiet.

W is back in mid-morning but the special event of the day will be picking up our daughter, who is here for the week. HURRAH! We can't wait to see her.
Kirsten arrives on time - and we are delighted that she's here. It's a 40-hour trip from her place to ours. She's so tired but up for a good supper and chat. Oh ... sweet to have family here - esp a daughter.

When K opens her suitcase, it is full of baking soda. The American TSA has slashed a sealed bag of baking soda and let it drift all over the luggage.

So rude. Why couldn't they tape over the hole they made in the bag?

We have a group over for breakfast at 8:00. There are several new people in the group - what a pleasure to meet them. PakD brings a huge box of baking over. I should have taken a picture - they are beautiful as well as tasty. I add tea, rice, and hot curried jackfruit to the mix. It's a bit early to cook but oh well.

At 10, we leave the first meeting for a staff meeting at BIC. We move through our long agenda and have work to do. We're back just before lunch -

We eat at Eatalia - pizza, sweet potato and mushroom gnocchi, and calzone. And K gets her list of movies for the trip.

We're already tired out when we come home before 3. K and I rest while W heads out to one more meeting in town. (He loves to keep going. I need breaks between.)

Read more:
*Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. 1 Samuel 3:9

*God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Psalm 46:1-5 NIV

*You silence the roaring of the seas, the tumult of the peoples. Psalm 65:7
*And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. 1 John 2:24
Moravian Prayer: Lord, you speak to us in many varied ways—in the beauty of creation, in the cry of one in need, in the still small voice within us. Open our hearts to understanding and discerning your desire for us. Then use us Lord, just as you will.
Lord Jesus, who commands the wind and the waves, calm the storms within our world. Grant peace to those in need and distress. Empower us, through your grace, to be as Christ to others. Amen.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Wow - teens are lively! and a bonus chocolate cupcake recipe

Friday/Saturday, September 7/8, 2018
The teens are here! The Youth Alpha retreat, led by Scott and Sarah, is great fun - and we all seem to be constantly eating. They don't necessarily get a lot of sleep - which seems to be a requirement for a good retreat weekend.  

For supper, we're at a burger truck down the street (the only one we know of in the city). Near our table, a little girl catches her sandal in the drain grate - it drops several feet into the dry run-off channel. Waldemar and William fish it out, using broom handles and ingenuity. The family cheers them on and is thrilled when the shoe is returned.

The teens keep talking, laughing, and learning together.

Breakfast is French Toast and sausages. I start prep for the day at 6 - so we can eat at 7. We're intentionally building community time into our Sunday gatherings. Before we leave the house, we fill a large IKEA tote with cakes, a tablecloth (and a cloth cover to prevent pre-meeting raids on the goodies.) The kids heft it along when they arrive. . Pretty strong!

The teens talk about what they're learning in the morning service. For most, it's the first presentation they've made in a faith meeting.

Della has also made dumplings and egg rolls. They are totally yummy and appreciated. Not everyone is ready for sweets by 10:30am.

Attendees start to dismantle the floral arrangement then the meeting is done. I take home the leftover bouquet. (Thursday, when the roses have wilted, I pull them out and tuck in a few garden blooms.)
Sunday to Thursday bouquet

Once we get home and finish lunch, I fall fast asleep for a few hours. Feels so good. Then we pack our suitcase for tomorrow's working trip to another city (a 2-hr flight east, still on the island of Java).

One of our study attendees feels ill - though she's wrapped in a fleecy blanket, she says she's cold ... and going home. She ends up in hospital later. But we don't find out until the evening.

After our team meeting at noon, W and I are off to the airport for a flight to Malang. He's speaking at a college graduation and I'm along to make some connections.

Pak Hudus used to live in Bandung but now is faculty at the college. He and his family pick us up and welcome us to a delicious meal.

My perpetual favorite: noodles
W does a good job speaking, with Pak Hudus translating at the grad ceremony. 

He's wearing a gown loaned him by the college; I have on a batik wrap skirt and scarf - it feels very formal.

It's warm - maybe 85 or 90o (30sC). The students are wearing robes over their formal dresses or shirts and ties. One of the students faints away as she stands for the charge by the president to the students. A few classmates bring her a chair and sit her in it. She falls off it to the floor. 

A few faculty wives and other adults gather around; then 4 female students pick her up and walk out with her feet and hands dangling. We assume she's ok, but don't hear more.

Afterward, there are obligatory pictures - 

A photo with Pak Hudus and family
Lunch in the cafeteria mingles administrators, faculty, staff, alumni, and students. The rawon soup is hearty and delicious. We especially appreciate the iced fruit and jelly dessert served afterward.

We stop by the "farmers row" outside the college, where fresh apples and ubi (sweet potatoes) hang in bunches and bags. We buy 5 kg of each: our luggage is mostly empty and the bags slide in easily.

Hadi, one of our dear "sons" from movie night, has moved to Malang this week. He's on a teaching internship at a renowned university. We meet him in the evening at Vosco Coffee (oh - what a fantastic lava cake). Yes, we have dessert first!

Then Dr Gatut (the college president) and his university-aged son Bagus take us to a traditional eatery. There are old royal coaches and antique artifacts - we have to take a picture, of course.

The place is mostly empty on a Tuesday night but apparently is packed on weekends. The food is good, the lighting dim, and ambiance relaxing. The batik tablecloth is intricate - 

Hadi gets a few more connections while we enjoy a visit. Our stomachs are full. Wonderful.

We're away at 5am to leave for the airport at 6. There's fruit and pastries on our bedroom dresser, so we don't even have to get breakfast. Dr Gatut drives us to the airport. The door is locked until 7am. 

There's no lounge open yet, but there's a cafe - where the rawon soup is nowhere near as tasty as what we had yesterday. I leave most of it behind and crunch down the crackers (krupuk), which I've grown to like.

The flight home is uneventful. Beautiful Indonesia unfolds below our prop plane.

We toss our suitcases in the house and head out to a meeting. By 2, we're on our way to a hospital visit with our dear friend. Look at the gift bag I found - whaaaat?! (I notice it in the parking lot. haha) Well, it's in my hand; maybe she won't notice - that's hardly a pastoral sentiment. We pray for Hela and her daughter Gabi before we head home.

A friend drops in the evening by with 3 pottery pieces made by her friend, a well-known artist. I will fill the little vase tomorrow morning.

Oh I'm so tired! But the night is interrupted by scrabbling in the ceiling. There's a mouse up there... hard at work. The helper caught a big one in a glue trap Monday night but there must be more.

There's no walk this morning, to our relief. Using fruit from the Malang fruit stand, the helper bakes an apple pie and some chocolate Zubi cupcakes. (BONUS: the vegan recipe - found online - is posted at the end of the blog.)

We make another hospital visit - but our friend is asleep, so we leave a "little something" for her daughter and tiptoe out. The waiting room at the side of the building is empty.

The study is at our place in the evening; all of the attendees tonight live on the same hill, so there's no sense in traipsing downtown and back up. It's a warm and lively evening of discussion; Alice leads - and the conversation lasts until 21:30.

Ugh. The mouse is in our room tonight. We hear it chomping on something much of the night, but W can't find it, despite getting up a few times to look.

W pulls out the dresser and finds mouse droppings and a granola bar that fell behind the furniture. The wrapper is chewed up. We arrange to borrow a cat from one of our friends to take care of this.

By 7am, we're meeting friends at Ethnic, a local restaurant. After breakfast, they head to town and her job site. The old trees along the main streets are draped in Bandung city colors: blue, yellow, and green.

W and I walk back home and get to work. How we appreciate technology - W talks to one of his cousins, who is working on W's EU citizenship. I get to chat with my mom and dad. So grateful for a good family.

Another hospital visit. (Hela's feeling much better, thank God!) More writing and sermon prep. Then it's evening. How did that happen?

Read more:
*The Lord said, “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.” Exodus 23:20 NIV

*Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge. Psalm 57:1

*The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Jeremiah 31:3 NIV
* Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9 NIV
*The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory. 2 Timothy 4:18
I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven on account of his name. 1 John 2:12
Moravian Prayer: God of the universe, we thank you for your constant love and care. Your saving grace reaches out to all corners of the earth. None of your children are hidden from your view. Wherever we go, there you are. Praise be to God. 
Loving and merciful Christ, refuge for our souls, what comfort we have in you. You forgive us, protect us, restore us and renew us. As we are filled to overflowing with your love and mercy, may we in turn pour out your love and mercy to others each day. In Jesus’ most precious name. Amen.
BONUS Recipe: *Chocolate Sweet Potato Cupcakes (vegan)* Makes 14-18 cupcakes
*Puree 3/4 c cooked/canned sweet potato (or 1 large steamed one) with
1 c water
1/4 c oil
2 tsp vanilla
2 T vinigar
*Mix together 1.5 c flour
1 c sugar
1/2 c cocoa powder
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
(opt 1/2 c oatmeal)
*Pour the wet into the dry and barely mix. Spoon into 2 greased (or paper-lined) cupcake pans. 
*Bake at 350o for 25 min. Let them sit in the cupcake pan for 5 minutes before cooling them on a wire rack ... and eating them all.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Step lively!

Thursday, September 6, 2018
How much fun can it be to walk in the hills? W stays home but I'm off with the walking group.

I'm excited to be on my favorite trail for the first time in about a year. But we end up on a new path with some challenges. Instead of Mariska's walk, we call this one "Marie's walk." She found it with her folks a few weekends ago.

We might have been forewarned by the odd staircase that starts the walk - imagine walking up or down this. There's no clear pattern for alternating feet on the 2'-3' treads. Gotta be a nightmare on tourist weekends when hundreds of people use it in both directions! (You can't stay on one side unless you can leap +2' every second step.)

There are wet boulders to climb over, uneven rocks to keep ankles straight on, and at least 6-7 flimsy or torn-apart bridges. The bridges are not too bad for humans. We're already used to stepping over holes in the woven bamboo or negotiating rusted corrugated metal sheets that rest on crumbling concrete pilings. It's not even that bad for our sure-footed Gypsy, who runs across and back without a glance at the rivers below.

There's construction (or shall we say deconstruction) of a few bridges. Workers make repairs between weekends so trekkers don't have to put their lives in jeopardy. They've removed one bridge completely. However, they've installed two of four 4"-diameter logs that will serve as the foundation for a new bridge.

One man braces himself in the gushing stream and takes our hands to help us balance across the two skinny logs. I fling my walking poles across the stream and place my feet sideways to maximize traction. We cross one by one, while other workers catch us once we're near the opposite shore. Whew I'm on the other side.

And then I have to go back again to get our second dog.

Cocoa, leash held by the worker, has fallen into the shallow water rushing under the bridge. Hairy poodle feet are not the best thing for a dog walking on a slippery 4" log. She ducks out of her collar when she falls in so I can't pull her out - and leaps for shore. Silly girl - wrong side. I tighten her collar and help her across, the worker helping me balance again.

Cocoa is game though. After she's across, she follows me closely on the leash to do the other crossings. There's a 6' drop under one approach (spaced branches) to a woven bamboo bridge. We all ignore the drop-off and step step step forward.

Cocoa is a bouncy, leaping athlete, chasing Gypsy on the smoother parts of the trail. She's also filthy, her wet feet picking up every dusty and muddy granule.
See the new trail going up that hill about 30' behind this guy? Thin logs hold loose dirt steps in place.

We reach the cars and are headed home before noon; I have work waiting in the office.

The canary gets a nail clipping where the helper buys birdseed. The shop owner tips the bird on its back, using human nail clippers to snip off the 1/2" toenails. The birdie sings loudly, happy to be back in his cage.

In the late afternoon, W and I head downtown for a study. We're driving back up the hill and home by 8:30pm. Nice to get to bed within the hour.

Sitting on the porch early in the morning, the sun is shining and I'm relaxing in the beauty around me. Then I take another look at the ancient guava tree beside the porch. I've been thinking for months about how to shape it for the next 40 years = creating a balanced and interesting profile. (I love pruning for future beauty.)

but - No way! The yard guy has lopped off 2 thick year-old branches. Jagged and torn stumps are left, coming off the main trunk. (I've been pondering which one to grow out as a major limb.) Argh. This is the second time: the guy doesn't ask but randomly cuts stuff. Do I need some "this is off limits" tree paint? Maybe. Otherwise, the tree will be ridiculously lop-sided in a few years.

I huff into my office to make a sign, hanging it on a mangled branch. "TIDAK MEMOTONG!" (don't cut!) I hope a new sprout will emerge in the right direction.

We're on our way to the grocer. First, W and I drive up into the garden district to buy a few flowers. The big yard seems to swallow plants. A few new bursts of color poke out here and there. Once they're established and bigger, they'll be pretty.

Tropical plants are fascinating. On two completely different hanging plants, the tiny pink flowers are beautiful.

We pick up a few things for a boys' halfway home. There are so many possibilities for engagement here.

Tonight, Scott and Sarah kick off a Youth Alpha retreat at the house. Ibu S helps me put extra mattresses and bedding in the lofts. The teens and their leaders are sleeping over this weekend.

Read more:
*I therefore command you, “Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor.” Deuteronomy 15:11
*Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. Psalm 33:1-5 NIV
*Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. 1 John 3:18
Moravian Prayer: Most holy and generous God, you look past our faults and failures and love us unconditionally. We love, because you first loved us. Show those of us who have so much, how to help those who have so little. Let us embrace our brothers and sisters in need. Let us be as Christ to them. Amen.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

41 years - an anniversary

Monday, September 3, 2018
41 years. That's how long we've been married. Both of us would agree that the last year was the happiest to date - which means that we're looking forward to the next 41.

I wake to silence. You'd think that was a good thing - only a lizard is cheech-cheeching outside the window (I hope). Otherwise there is silence. Since prayers start between 3 and 4, I know it is too early to get up. Sigh. I read for a few hours and then fall back asleep.

Yesterday, W and I spoke together and then were affirmed as co-pastors of the city's international church. The leaders prayed a blessing over us - and friends milled around after for snacks and conversation.

One fun thing is that Nicole and the kids of BIC set up the table for our the munchies. Fantastic! to have their help. Hela made 100 little green packets of flour and coconut (delicious) wrapped in leaves. (Somebody called them bugis.) We brought crackers, dips, and cookies, too.

This Monday morning's early call is postponed until later in the week, so - after falling asleep at 8pm last night but getting up for a few hours in the middle of the night, I am ready to tackle the day by 6.

Our study partners start arriving after 8:30. Our house-helper volunteers the first Monday morning of each month at a posyandu (pre-schoolers' medical clinic). Without her, I make tea and set out snacks. We get a bit of a late start: it takes water a while to boil up here. W's not yet well enough to help - he's still coughing, though he sounds a lot better today than last week.

Our team meeting and lunch happen after the study. We always have much to catch up on and lots of interesting stuff happening. Since W is speaking Sunday, he gives his talk to the team. Our habit is that when a team members speaks in public, they present their talk Monday before. The team gives good feedback on clarity, rewording, and making illustrations come alive.

In the evening, we are privileged to attend the open house of The English Center, Donny's brainchild. From a small start near the university, he's expanding to a new and bigger building. His students learn quickly. It's hard to believe how fast they become fluent. We wish you success, Donny!

Time to celebrate our anniversary. After a first appointment, I head for the arisan (women's group).

W and I explore the city (and run a few fun errands).
Traffic on a 2-lane street
A banana store
The chicken slaughter-house (crates from last weekend's victims)
Shoe re-soling beside key cutting
We have a good noodle lunch, check out some shops, and are back before supper. We ordered extra noodles from Della for the team meeting yesterday - so I get my favorite meal twice in a day (noodles!)
Spice sellers
Get your wok burners replaced
Or the handle re-soldered on your stainless steel pot
When you can't live on music, add a sport section to your shop.
 We even find a china reject shop, where I buy a few pretty bowls on sale, to smarten up our breakfast oatmeal.

My missed Monday call is on today! I love talking to my friend and mentor - she shares valuable insights before we pray together. Then it's back to work.

W is definitely feeling better - on the road to recovery. We head for lunch with the walking group at a bistro new to us. Such good food. They give good service in bringing the food. Mind you, we have to chase someone down to get the bill and a box for our leftovers. The lava cake has Marie in raptures.

W is off to his supper meeting while I write and catch up. (And eat a mini-Magnum ice cream bar. My favorite treat.)

Read more:
*Return, O faithless children, I will heal your faithlessness. “Here we come to you; for you are the Lord our God.” Jeremiah 3:22
And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6
But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 

These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,  keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. Jude 17-23 NIV
Moravian Prayer: God of tender mercies, hear our prayer. So often we become distracted and lose our way. We wander spiritually homeless and hungry. We long to come home to you, Abba, Father. We crave your love and acceptance. Welcome us again into your fold. With grateful hearts we pray. Amen.