Friday, March 24, 2017

Life: upside-down

March 2017
I just saw a post by Australian Vogue: How to Prepare Your Home for Autumn. I blink. What?

Oh, that's right. We live 6 degrees south of the equator. The South - including parts of Africa, South America, Australia, New Zealand and a host of islands are emerging from summer and moving towards winter - which crests in July and August. It's an upside-down world for us. (Christmas was tropical, too.)

We will have changed time zones 5 times (besides travel) when we get back home. From hour 0 in Bandung:

  • 15 hours backward to Seattle
  • 2 hours ahead to Missouri
  • 2 hours back to Seattle
  • 1 hour forward for daylight savings
  • 14 hours forward to Bandung.
I expect jetlag.

March 2014, with adventures and farewells to come
In those hours, we've had meals and conversations with friends. We've spoken and taught and listened in large and small public venues. I'm stashing memories for the hours ahead.

In our new setting, there are people all around us. But at times, we won't understand the words, intonation, or customs. We won't have a clue what is going on. Then we remember that there are places in the world where people think and speak like we're used to. It's comforting.

Have you ever been in a situation where everyone else seems to know what to do - but you're in the dark? It takes a long time to understand a new culture.

But luckily, it only takes a moment to fall in love with a country, the way we have with Indonesia.

Read more:
*The Lord declares, ‘Those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be treated with contempt.’ 1 Samuel 2:30

*Jesus says, “You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am.” John 13:13
Moravian Prayer: As we return to our daily routines, may we not forget that you call us to follow you every day. May this day be made holy as we seek for ways to reflect your grace. Amen.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Blessing upon blessing

We're homesick for Bandung. But when we get there, we will miss Seattle and our connections here.

The whirlpool laundry sink doesn't phase this grandkid.
  • Kids and grandkids and parents. Yeah. That.
The other two cram in and have a waterfight in the sink

  • Meeting with friends. Knowing what to do at church. We get lonesome for you.

Watching friends' children grow up

  • Speaking and understanding. Language learning sometimes gives me a headache.
  • Hot water from the kitchen and bath taps (ours are cold-water only in Bandung; consistent hot water in the shower also depends on water pressure through point-of-use heaters. Now you have it, now you don't.)

  • Great traffic flow - even during rush hour, people stay in the lanes. (Yes, we mean it about traffic.) In Seattle, there are few pedestrians, carts, bicycles, cars, buses, horse-and-buggies, and toko-toko kaki (street vendor carts crisscrossing traffic. And no 6-10-year-olds are signaling between the hoods of the cars, directing traffic for 5c to make up for the dearth of traffic lights.
I enjoy the patterns on a friend's papasan in Springfield MO

and the grand old buildings of this railroad town
And of course, the reason I came (besides the interviews with faculty and experts) and friendships ... 
hour upon hour of library studies.
Sitting beside this fabric collage artist on the flight home
Meeting in churches and restaurants or coffee shops with people who partner in prayer and support
- thanks Pastor Peter
  • We not homesick for bugs so big that you can't miss them. One day, our granddaughter screams, "Oma! A bug a bug! Oma, a bug!" and points to a little chia-seed sized dot on the table. Oh honey, if you only knew.
A friend comes over with 2 Indonesian puppets - delighted!
Discovering old board games stashed at my mother's house.
  • Convenience - that USA shop or restaurant is actually at the online address. And customer service is interested in finding things for you.
Friendly staff in Chehalis / Centralia

and enormous portions of food - everywhere!

Family reunions (W's mom here)
  • You can find what you want in the Seattle stores, in abundance. Crisp salad? Check. Fresh meat? Check. Canned goods. Check. A new broom. Check. An auto part. Check. The tea I like. Check.
A Sunday morning hotel breakfast shared with little wrestlers and their chaperones
  • Cleanliness - when the dust blows in through every crack in the tropics, you sweep and mop every day. Here, a thorough once-a-week keeps things spick and span.
Grandkids have a sleepover at Oma and Opa's

or a picnic on the kitchen floor
or a tea party.
If you take a grandchild along when you go out, you might find a few surprises on your phone, especially
when your 5-yr-old granddaughter takes selfies with your friends ... 
We don't worry about upset stomachs, no matter where we go to eat:
  • It's so quiet without Muslim calls to prayer at 3:30am. We don't miss those much. But they will remind us of our privilege of talking to God, that he hears, and that he loves us enough to answer and direct our paths.
  • Dinner with friends
  • Wearing seasonal clothing - though wearing socks only once a week (with hiking shoes) and going barefoot in sandals is its own pleasure.
There's more that we enjoy Stateside, of course. But back home, we'll most miss the relationships, among other things here that we take for granted.
Americans lining up in orderly queues, 10 minutes before the first boarding call
Read more:
*The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage. Psalm 16:6 ESV

*We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy  name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you. Psalm 33:20-22 NIV

*But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought  and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV

*Paul wrote: God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Lord Jesus, who promised us life in abundance, open our eyes to all the resources at our disposal this day. Fill us with your generosity so that all your good gifts may be shared with joy. Amen.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

A whole bunch of no's

Although we've been and seen in the last weeks ... it seems like there's been a lot of "no, thank you!"s as well. This weekend, we're

selling the old car
Exchanging the current loaner car with a friend (Thanks, D&P)
Faculty for online course
Blogging days of Lent
Catching up on 3 beta-tested courses (2 exceptional seminars on business leadership; 1 art course for fun)
On an overnight trip to Canada to see partners and parents
Finishing weekend plans and speaking engagements
Taking an early flight to Missouri on Monday

Everything takes time. And God gives us just enough,

so that we have permission to say no to what we'd do -- if we had headspace and more time. I am grateful for limits.

Maybe I'd say yes to more art. But even with the incentive of a painting course assignments and my Lent Days project, I'm not "doing art." I have 2 Lent days and a few scribbles on the canvas. Creativity seems low when obligations are high and routines are non-existent.

I need a nap. No to more work. Hurrah!

Question for you: What's YOUR trigger? When do you say, "Enough already?!" when everything you're doing is wonderful or necessary?

Read more:
*For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.

This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 2 Timothy 6-10 NIV

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Speaking English

I'm always optimistic that the next week or season will be restful. It seems the only way that happens - for now - is resting between wonderful moments.
Chilliwack snow in March
We've been and seen a lot - people, places, things in 2 weeks. Here are some of our favorites.

Sunday 1
God refreshes me each time we get together with his Family. Here's Brandon, who interviewed us and spoke 4 times at Canyon Creek.
Brandon Beals
During the week,  we have time with family, from grandparents to grandkids.
The fam, minus 2 in Texas. (We missed you!)
I forget to take pics with W's family (as did W and his fam - or at least). We have a nice supper together - my mother-in-law has always been a memorable (excellent) cook.

In the morning, I have enough wits about me to take pics with my folks and the beautiful landscape behind their house.

Mom's on a clearing spree so I check out some memories:
Waldemar (middle), in our first years, hired to do PR at the local college
One of many dresses I sewed and embroidered for our daughter (size 4)

My brother takes us for lunch. Beside us, a table of typical Canadians: manners = space between persons.
Here, 6 chairs, 3 people, nicely spaced.
WPPRS: we've met since Fall 1993; my accountability group and dear friends
Grandkids play peek-a-boo under our DR table
Sunday 2
A wonderful, hospitality-filled weekend in Lacey with Peter Degon and team
And, between grading, class prep and editing, I give myself a quick haircut and we head for the hills, where ...
W and Beth film 3 sessions on scriptures and women in ministry leadership
Time with friends (don't get pics of all)

Morning tea - between playing Cruella who catches puppies (Oma chasing grandkids across the furniture)

and too many adventures to tell. But all, memories to keep. Maybe we'll see you while we're here?

Oh - did I mention how relaxing it is to speak and hear and understand? Our friends and we can communicate heart-to-heart. That's the most restful thing of all.

Read more:
*Praise the Lord! How good it is to sing praises to our God. Psalm 147:1
*He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 NASB
*Paul wrote: Speak to one another with the words of psalms, hymns, and sacred songs; sing hymns and psalms to the Lord with praise in your hearts. Ephesians 5:19 (GNT)
Moravian Prayer: O God from whom all blessings flow, when the echoes of songs and praises from Sunday grow dim, revive them in our hearts and minds. May the songs of grace accompany us to our classrooms, offices and homes this day. Amen.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The start of Lent: Qualities of Jesus

Last year's art discipline.
The focus was "Holy Resignation"
During Lent, I'll post daily. It's one of my annual spiritual disciplines. This year's focus is the qualities of Jesus that make him our role model, as well as our perfect Savior and Redeemer.

Click here to read more or sign up for daily posts. (Unsubscribe at any time.)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Grandkids are the best

There's a fresh dusting of snow on the trees outside our window. I grew up in Winnipeg so God maxed me on snow early. I don't miss cold weather - and never care to see another flake. We live on a hill in Seattle, a non-walking suburb. The nearest grocer is over a mile away. Visiting friends means driving. The hills, iced under the snow, are a challenge to drive on. We slip and slide around all the others who don't know how to drive on the slopes. We have 3 appointments today that we can't move.

"Can't" is relative - I'm actually hoping for rain to swish away all the snow. (Just admitting it: "I've hated winter for about the last 20 years." No surprise to those who know me.)

Monday, February 20, 2017
We drive into Jakarta with our friend Josue. After the driver drops us at the airport hotel, he takes J to our friends David and Paula, where he's overnighting. Tomorrow he'll meet the IESJakarta team and make some new connections for his coaching dreams.

It's a long day of travel from morning to night. Two flights. Our son Timothy picks us up for the ride to our Seattle home. Brrrr. We get into the basement suite and it's coooold. The concrete floors haven't had heat on them for months. We have feather blankets under the sofabed. I pull them out - one for under us and our quilts on top. We drop off to sleep in the wee hours after unpacking.

Time to think about the days ahead. We go through our calendar. And we meet our grandkids again. They look at us a few times before they cling to us. How we've missed them!

The pantry is stocked in the basement with canned and dry goods. We buy fresh and frozen groceries at Trader Joes. Ah, what a variety of tastes that we recognize and have missed. Ravioli. Sausage. Yellow potatoes. Fresh washed salads. Plump asparagus. (Oh, so many kinds of vegetables!) Crisp apples. Frozen mango bars. And a frozen TJ pizza for an impulse or late-night supper down the road.

It's Thursday morning! Girlfriend day. We meet at Third Place Books, which is the refreshment for my spiritual life and lets me speak heart-to-heart with others. (They speak English. Woohoo!)

I stop in at the bookstore. English books galore. Shelf after shelf. Aisle after aisle. What unbelievable luxury for this addicted reader.

One last stop - an outlet store. I wander the store as recreation. I'm not a shopper. But I recognize the products and know what they're for. I can imagine using them - and leave almost empty-handed because it's seeing and knowing that I've craved today.

In the evening, we're at Canyon Creek. They interview us about what we're doing. And Brandon's talk speaks to my heart. I'll hear it 3X more Sunday morning - he's a compelling speaker and his words stay with me - when God sends us, he goes before and provides the way.

We drive up to Mt Vernon to lunch with my parents. Ah, to wrap arms around each other in a big hug. The portions are huge at Red Robin - W has to finish mine. He heads off to the boat and friends night - while I rewrite a syllabus and do some other writing. I haven't started on the book edit on my desk. I watch a movie and am up until 2:30am. Jet lag.

And I wake at 12:45pm. What? I check my watch. Check my phone. Check the computer clock. Yup - earplugs worked better than a magic pill and I feel rested.

W comes back with food poisoning. He staggers through the day - while I clean and set up house.

The kids and I go to the park. All three walk all the way - I push the stroller there and 3-yr-old Levi pushes it home. His big sister (5) gets a bit impatient as he weaves along the side of the road. I'm just keeping my eyes on the little feet of almost-two-yr-old Isaac, who tries to put them onto the main street more than once.

Kinsey and I gather moss and feathers for our moss tray when we get back to the house.

A lovely day among friends at Canyon Creek. They encourage us and Brandon's talk - even 3 more takes - is just what I need to hear. On this trip, I've asked God to open my heart to instruction, to fill me up for the trip home when we give of ourselves. The young staff takes us to lunch: Thai food. Yum for heart, soul, and body.

And the kids are waiting at home. We call the missing two - one is away, but the other settles into the conversation with jokes and tech. Ah - boys! We eat dessert and then a few appetizers later in the day. By evening, we're tired but happy. W's stomach has settled and he's getting his energy back.

Read more:
*The word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. Psalm 33:4
Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” Matthew 5:17
And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. Romans 8:2 ESV
Moravian Prayers: Unchanging God, thank you for wanting to be in relationship with us. As we see you in history, and in our lives, we gain new insights. May our faith be strengthened as we see clearly your desire to bring us closer to you, and to each other, in love. Amen.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Suffer the little children ...

Friday, February 17, 2017
We start the day with a long walk. IbuS cleans up the remains of movie night and irons blouses and shirts.

Wedding book attendants
on their phones... like everywhere else in the world
My alarm doesn't sound so we miss our morning walk. While W stays home, DrW takes me to a mid-morning Batak-Medan wedding in the Bandung Women's Hall. The daughter of her classmate is getting married.
Primary school classmates, after 50 years
I stick out as a blonde among dark-haired beauties. Official and personal cameras capture my attendance, from our entry to greeting to the family, and through the buffet line. It's strange, this attention.

For someone self-conscious, it would be hard to bear. I don't care if they stare at me: the people here are as interesting to me as I am to them.
A fiddler ushers the couple and their families to the front, where dancers do a few traditional turns before posing for pictures with them.
We are close to the front of the line and soon reach the bride and groom on the stage - and what a look of surprise the bride gives me! ("Who is she and who invited her?"). I tell her how pretty she is and twish the couple God's blessings and peace.

The buffet line is in the middle of the reception room but there are four other food stations - dessert, ice cream, soup, and saté. That's usual here: the more "grand" the wedding, the more food options there will be. People leave used dishes everywhere - on the edges of tables, on chairs, and even under things. Attendants walk around and pick them up.
People shove their used buffet plates under the chairs in front of them
Then DrW takes me to a favorite cafe, where we pick up sweets to take home.

And we make a stop at a renowned bakery. Then it's after 2pm and I have an hour to pack and nap.

At 3:30, Waldemar joins me at a new neighbor's. He's not new to the neighborhood and we've greeted him many times on our morning walks. But our friendship is just beginning, courtesy of DrH, who has invited most of the guests who show up at his house. It's a distinguished and interesting group. The best-known Bandung historian is a 40-yr expat. She loves cookies and offers her driver to take me home and back to get some homebaked goodies. We add the tray of cookies to the many foods on the table.

The host, a well-known architect, lives part-time in Singapore. He and his team renovated Raffles in Sinagpore - He loves mid-century contemporary design. And he founded the Manchester University (UK-Asian) alumni club. We admire pictures of him with the British royal family and other famous alums. It's fascinating for me as former alumni director: his fellow alumni understand the value of connections and the need to support their alma mater with thousands (and millions) of pounds in donations.

Our next stop requires an Uber trip through downtown traffic. Our friend Bob is saying goodbye for a few months. He and four friends are traveling across Asia and Europe to the German VW festival in their UW combi-van and a Beetle.

Then it's our last stop of the night: an alumni birthday party, hosted at the Savoy hotel by one of the afternoon attendees. We eat supper, listen to alums sing karaoke, and celebrate.
And then it's time to come home and sleep.

We walk the dog around the block (1.5 km) and "park" him near the security guards while we eat breakfast at Miss Bee. We enjoy this neighborhood hangout.

We take the dog home, and before we know it, it's 9am, time for church. After that is W's theology class. Today's question: "Does God exist?"

Our regular dining hall at Bumi S is full. In full swing are a wedding, a birthday party, and an alumni meeting. Every seat is full so we go to another restaurant. I have to leave early for a 2:00 meeting at the house.

DrW brings the leaders of a preschool association to discuss how we might help them. They have over 1000 underprivileged or poor preschool students in 48 informal and 70 formal schools. There are 30, 50, or 70 children in each learning group.

Most teachers of the informal institutions are untrained, and some just have primary school education themselves.

Her first request: do I know teaching interns or experienced educators who could train these local preschool teachers? They need help in understanding the stages and skills of children, aged 0-6. Perhaps could we also provide an unofficial certificate as an incentive for them to take the training? "All our teachers would try to come - we have at least 300."

In undergraduate studies, my minor was childhood education. But I need to recruit current trainers to teach these teachers.

Her second request: do we know anyone willing to share their physical resources to bless these little ones? Currently, most volunteer teachers are unpaid. A bare minimum of $30/month would support a part-time teacher and $80/month would pay for a full-time administrator. The schools also desperately need children's pre-school books, as well as educational and craft supplies.

I make no promises. But perhaps our partners who have a heart for children will consider spending out of their abundance (or sacrificially) to improve young lives here. Please let us know if that is you.
On a weekend night, cars creep along at 5-10mph between pedestrians, motorcycles, carts, and tour busses.
Read more:
*The Lord will again rejoice over you for good as he rejoiced over your fathers. Deuteronomy 30:9

*Paul wrote: For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11
*Paul wrote to Timothy: I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. 2 Timothy 1:5
Moravian Prayer: Good Shepherd, you search for the one lost sheep, and rejoice when it is found. May our faith in you be as strong as your faith in us. You desire good for us. Let us believe and live with that promise. In your name, Amen.