Thursday, December 6, 2018

No Elf in sight? Oh wait!

It's hard to grasp that we are able to get to three distant places in a month: two in Indonesia, and then Australia. The world is a beautiful place. I'm still thinking about the "rivers" that run across the surface of the ocean. It's amazing to see the unity and harmony of creation on land, in the air, or in the sea.
Several people call to say they are praying for us. We appreciate that - and make prayer for others part of our daily routines. (This from Pursuit Church online. Good one, Angela.) 

Monday, December 3, 2018
We settle back into our city - with early conference calls, meetings, and unpacking. Of course, we have to go to the grocer: our fridge is pretty empty. The organic hydroponics delivery comes: 5 heads of lettuce and kale @$3.50, delivered. That won't be enough for movie night, but it's a good start. I count on the Monday "green" drop-off to fill our vegetable crisper for the week.

We're doing "Art as Worship" - on the Advent Sunday themed JOY. I look through some easy crafts, relaxing and getting back into my own body.

W heads for town for some groceries from the wholesaler. I'll be cooking tomorrow but I'm not in the mood today - I don't even want to think about a menu. We head to the office for our weekly meeting; there's a lot to discuss and a few things to decide for the Christmas festivities ahead.

Movie night tonight. Which means that whatever awful hour I wake up, I look at our groceries and decide what to make for dinner ... for about 70 people.

Today's menu:

  • spaghetti: first thing in the morning, I cook 3 kg of spaghetti, slather it with olive oil, and close the pot with a lid. It gets heated just before serving.
  • sausages in coconut curry - I bake the sausages, then make the curry and combine it in a big turkey roaster
  • nangka (jackfruit): picked yesterday and steamed by the helper. The glue-like sap requires gloves or newspaper under the hand as a barrier when it is peeled. It's not sticky after steaming. I open a package of pineapple sauce, add chili seeds and smoke flavor and a few more odds and ends. The foreigners love it; the local can't figure it out.
  • baso balls in Italian sauce: they look like meatballs and are usually eaten in soup. They're so filler-heavy that it's more like gnocchi with super-fine-ground meat. I boil them, bake them with sauce, and cut them up, before heating them in the late afternoon
  • the helpers make rice and cut fruit - and do the dishes I didn't get around to
  • chicken wings - already spiced, these just need to be baked
  • green salad - bright bowls of leaves, tiny carrots, cucumbers, mushrooms, bean sprouts, and cabbage with a sesame seed dressing
The guest list filled up Monday as soon as W posted the invitation. It gradually shakes out until today, to about 80 people. I think most of them turn up.

A bunch have December birthday, so they get to go first in the food line.
Clau asks if she should be the satpam nasa (rice security guard). Sure, good idea. She greets everyone with a smile and doles out a spoon of rice to everyone who wants it. Sometimes, the young men in line take 3-4 spoonful and the last ones get none. Within a few minutes, two big rice cookers are empty. She's planned well: there is one spoonful left at the end.

Some of the guests bring food - Dony even makes kimbap (sushi) and others bring snacks to share at break. Madeline takes pictures for me. Hands-free, I stand outside the kitchen and say hello.

We do our traditional readings, which we used to do with our whole family at Christmas. Each reader speaks clearly and gets a cheer at the end. And then we watch "Elf." Silly. Fun. With a message.

About 3/4 of the attendees are well known to us - we consider them our family. But there are many new people tonight as well. One student from Kazakhstan brings his guest over to introduce us. He laughs: "He didn't know why you were having so many people over. He didn't believe that you would feed us. And he didn't think it would be this much fun."

I ask the guest if he had a good time. He says he had a fantastic time. And he says he'll be back in January. Well, he will if he can sign up on time. Like the others who are practically shouting their conversations by the end, he finds friends, becomes part of several conversations, and can't wait to return.

At 10:30pm, the helpers desert us after wrapping up the garbage and mopping the floor - they'll be back to clean up properly tomorrow. (They're our lifeline - no way we could do this without staff.)

It's hilarious: in this selfie culture, the reaction to someone holding a camera is like tossing food in a koi pond. They swarm into the picture and make cute faces. I have to laugh.

After, there's quite a crowd waiting near the gate for Grab cars and motorcycles, a noisy and energetic meeting after the meeting. We remind them to go quietly through the neighborhood. The last group leaves around 11.
W and I putter until for a few minutes and go right to sleep.

I'm awake at 4:30 with a headache. I took a melatonin pill before sleep, forgetting that it always gives me a headache without any sleep benefit whatsoever. Anyone want the bottle? It's yours.

Might as well get to work. I clear out emails, have my devotions, and start sorting through the to-dos. ohhhh! I have a WhatsApp request from the masseuse - should she come today? She's in town. At $13 for 2 hours ... yes please, I'll splurge. It's just what I need after the long flights and yesterday's cooking marathon. My shoulders go down a little bit.

Read more:
*Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Luke 21:33
This week's readings — Jeremiah 33:14–16; Psalm 25:1–10
1 Thessalonians 3:9–13; Luke 21:25–36
*Thus says the Lord God: Repent and turn away from your idols. Ezekiel 14:6
*The scribe said to Jesus, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Mark 12:32-33
Moravian Prayer: Truest Love, our hearts cannot express our praise for you. Lead us away from the idols we falsely love. Steer us toward your desire for our lives and fill us with the desire to love you, your creation, our neighbors and ourselves. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Cathedral day and Christmas in Brisbane

Thursday, November 29, 2018
Our view from the Eye of Brisbane
We're off to Brisbane on the train. The airbnb is downtown at half the price of a cheap hotel. It's not the cleanest (totally guy-cleaned - my sons would have thought it wonderful?) but it has all the amenities and is near town.

The pool is filled with leaves from the enormous benjamina fig looming overhead; the pool filter is also not working, so my swimsuit stays in the bag.
I don't realize how Christmas-deprived I've felt until we hit the streets - the decorations, cheerful "Merry Christmas" greetings, and lights fill me up.

There's even a full-scale nativity scene in one of the church windows as we walk home.
 And at night, we walk through a street caroling concert - such fun to hear how "walking' in a winter wonderland" is transformed by Australia's 35o (mid 90s) heat into "sweating in the steamy summer land."
The kangaroo skeleton in the Brisbane Museum is the only kangaroo we see.
 The modern art gallery is showing its every-three-years-super-display of Asian art. An aboriginal artist has filled a room with a swoop of feathers tied to 8 traditional tools (rock, arrows, etc.). It's gorgeous.

A Muslim artist has used straight pins to create patterns on cloth hangings. Those have to be heavy!
The light streams onto a wall through the prism created by a bee installation: bees come through the glass tunnel to build their cones and deposit honey in full view (a few hours a day before the warden hides them behind a velvet panel.)

 There are the usual strange and textured offerings that only the artist understands, like this room-sized one. People near us scratch their heads.

 A tangle of textures is woven into an enormous wall hanging (this might be 1/100 of it).
There's also an eye-catching sculpture outside, an elephant tipped on its face. The river walk is lovely though.

The day has come! Scott is being ordained as a deacon in the Anglican Church of Australia.
 I love being in spaces dedicated to the glory of God.
Scott spots us as he processions up the aisle.
Overhead, someone waves a fire-styled windsock to represent the presence of the Holy Spirit. (An incense substitute for the fragrance-sensitive? I miss the smell of worship.)
The liturgy for ordination is beautiful. Everyone-who's-anyone participates, from the archbishop to retired priests.
We love the words and the blessings spoken over Scott. We pray along - and ask God to anoint him for life and service.

After, there's a decidedly non-Baptist reception near the entry doors - with a variety of wines to accompany the coffee, tea, sushi, meats, and other delicacies.
From there, our friends invite us to their family home. The children buzz around and dip in the pool with delighted shrieks. We sit on a porch overlooking the yard. Waldemar talks theology with Pa, Scott's grandpa, and the rest of us eat a great meal and chat. I especially enjoy visiting with Sarah's mom -

we hear stories of Scott growing up, of the families' love for God, each other, and his Church. It is a refreshing time for us. Scott and Sarah drive us back into town. We crash into sleep without even eating supper. Ok, so we had some chocolate and tea ...

Can it be time to fly home already? We're taking the first flight with a decent connection - but still miss the Children's Program at BIC. Sounds like it was great fun and a blessing, too.

Even the return views from the airplane are indescribable. I hold my breath, looking out the window and worshipping the God who oversees this planet - every corner has its beauty and a way to sustain itself (if humans cooperate).
   The airport transfer on our return is Bali - with its Hindu based culture.

Once we arrive in Bandung, W negotiates a taxi (3X the normal price, but our driver has been given time off). We lug our suitcases, filled with snacks, across the street and through the parking lot to the car. We are happy to drive into the gate, mid-evening.

Read more:
*In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5

*Repent and live! Ezekiel 18:32

*When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
*Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:7-10 NIV*Clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:24
Moravian Prayer: God, like a seamstress of salvation, sew for us clothing that fits us for your service; create a clean heart within us; redeem us from our ill-fitting vanities; and bless us with righteousness. We pray in Christ. Amen

Sunshine Coast!

I wrote a whole post on our time in Australia. And it has disappeared. So here are some pics -

Saturday, November 24, 2018
Near the end of the day we have a visit with William and Maddie. Love these two. Maddie has set up our Advent angels.
And we take a picture by the tree.

After church, we go for lunch at Bumi - Gabi takes our picture.

After study and team meeting, we leave Bandung, land in Bali for a few hours (an "ok" lounge at the airport), and then catch an overnight flight to Australia and a summery beginning to Advent and Christmas.

We love our time with Scott and Sarah. They pick us up at Brisbane airport and spend the day with us on the Sunshine Coast. I am stunned by the beauty of the beaches
- and the great food!
The signs on this surfing beach are new to us.

Tea at a friend's cafe is wonderful, too.

Scott and Sarah take us for a morning walk in the bush - except W's stomach is not cooperating and I still have foot issues. The wild turkeys make the view even more interesting.
Because I'm not walking far, I have time to be thrilled by the surroundings. In the peeling bark of the paper trees, I see pictures - the glory of the Australian ordinary.
Sarah takes us to breakfast and sees us off to Brisbane.
We take one last look at the beach before we go ...  and snap the glass mountains from the train windows.
Brisbane is a treat as well - more on that in the next post.
Read more:
The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. Psalm 121:5–6
He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:8
Moravian Prayer: God, like a newborn’s mother, you wrap us up in your protecting arms. We adore you forever. Keep us from everything that assails; build us up for our journey and watch over our every step. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.