Sunday, July 15, 2018

God and gods

Friday, July 13, 2018
We sit in traffic for hours but finally make it to the Airbnb. We hear many languages: there are tourists everywhere -  from Europe, Indonesia, and all over Asia. There are American visitors, too.

You can buy gods of many kinds along the streets. In front of our hotel, there's a collection of Hindu parade gear and ceremonial things. Gilded musical instruments, statues, costumes. It's fascinating.

You have to watch your feet as you walk along. That's a 3'X2' hole in the sidewalk, and you'll fall 2' until you hit the ground underneath.

We have breakfast at a restaurant that backs onto a rice paddy. We dangle our feet off the edge and watch the ducks parade back and forth along the fields.

It's a vegetarian and vegan place. I have cashew cream over porridge.

Waldemar has a tempe scramble. I'm more impressed than he is.

Beautiful flowers are for sale as we walk along ... or you might find them growing in your yard. 

Everywhere you look up from the sidewalk, there are temples, gateways with statues inside, and evidence of the integration of religion into everyday life.

Lunch is at a restaurant famous to locals: the mango juice and fresh coconut juice are refreshing.

The sink is totally weird. We wash our hands anyway.

Every corner has so much beauty that we can hardly take it in. The tropical heat and humidity produce moss on every stone and concrete surface.

Around a corner, a fence post overlooking the jungle has a crown on it.

As we walk back to the hotel, I take one more picture of a gateway. Bali is full of them.

It's a long day. I have mango yoghurt, organic lettuce leaves, and part of a package of salted cashews from yesterday's run to the grocer. W is not interested, but I make lettuce wraps for a delicious breakfast.

W always makes sure we arrive on time, so we start for the airport at 8:30 for our 1:30 flight.  When we drive from Ubud to Kuta airport, we pass a huge Rama and Monkey Warriors installation in a roundabout. We're at the airport about 11.

We come home after an uneventful flight. As usual when we open the car door, the dog jumps all over us, brings a leaf in his mouth, and is happy to sit to be petted. He's guarded the place since we left and continues on night patrol when we're back.

Last week's conference is now a memory. It's back to regular work. This week,  I'm prepping to teach a class in a few weeks. That's got to come into sharp focus.

Read more:
*Surely God’s salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Psalm 85:9
*Lord, you silence the song of the ruthless. Isaiah 25:5
*The Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. Isaiah 30:18
*The Son of God was revealed for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8
*If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who does right has been born of him. 1 John 2:29
Moravian Prayer: God of all things—help us to wait on you in faith that, in time, all will feel the blessings of your truth and justice. Help us to seek you for daily guidance.
Great Protector—thank you for keeping us safe from harm as a hen protects her chicks. How good it is to be kept safe, nestled in your care. Amen.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Island life, mixing work and rest

Saturday, July 7, 2018
We get stopped at a railroad crossing, but ahead of us a fuel tanker sits on the track as the barrier comes down. Traffic in front of him is stopped.

"Move it!" we say hopefully, from inside our car. He makes it out of harm's way just before the train comes a minute or two later. Whew.

We buy a hand mixer at the kitchen wholesaler to replace the one the helper burned out last year. She's been beating everything by hand, but her arthritis is getting worse so we get another.

"This is the last one," I warn. "If you put hard butter into the bowl and burn out the motor, I'm not replacing it." She seems to understand.

We are on a flight to Bali. Sounds romantic? Of course. But first, we watch as the wing of an airplane goes over our heads. The plane is taxiing to the runway and we have to wait for it to pass so we can walk across to our own airplane.

Truthfully, we're on the island for work. But the setting is stunning. All around us are flowers, gardens, Hindu statues and temples (unlike Muslim turrets and mosques where we live), and the beach.

Several times, I feel almost overcome by the enormity of God's love and faithfulness to the good and the wicked. Everyone may enjoy the beauty and abundance of his deep blue oceans and their sandy shores. I'm wonder as we walk the shoreline, "If any of us were God, would we let anyone but our friends and family explore our world?" Thankfully, we are not gods but created beings ... and our Creator God is very generous to us!

On of the things I've missed in Indonesia is my poodles. (We adopted adult poodles from breeders in the USA over the years, but had to give that up to come here.) I've heard about excellent breeders in Bali. I contact one and she sends me a questionnaire. And then an invitation to meet her.

The taxi driver refuses to go the way we were instructed and ends up in a lane so narrow he has to pull in his side mirrors. He just misses scraping the sides of his vehicle. We hear the story later: someone got angry with the neighbor and erected a dividing wall down the middle of the street. 

Never mind the dogs: Lizzie herself is beautiful at 71. In our interview, she determines that we are a good home. We know about grooming, the temperament, and high-energy of the breed. She says, "Once you've had a poodle, nothing else will do." True.

She gives us a dog she is retiring - Cocoa, a stunning chocolate Standard Poodle. I am initially worried that W will say no, but Cocoa likes him right away. (I'm ignored.) She bounces, prances, climbs the gate into the puppy pen, and owns the yard.

W smiles and says yes. He makes arrangements for her arrival at our house in 2 weeks. Gypsy will love his new playmate, too.

We walk back along the beach for about 5 miles. Kites soar above our heads. The tourists are baking in the sun while the locals bundle up with long sleeves, hats, and trousers to avoid it. In contrast to the Australians in bikinis, the Indonesian Muslim girls are fully dressed. Both happily take selfies and splash in the water.

 I'm amazed by the silvery sand patterns as the waves wash back out to sea.

Our feet are tired. We sit on a hotel lounger to watch the sun set before heading in. An older lady comes by and asks if I'd like a foot massage for $5 (1/2 hour). 

"$5?!" Sure. We talk about our kids and grandkids, about working and living together as families, and about God's care for us.

When we get back into the hotel, the maid has a surprise for us. I left my sunglasses on the counter, and she's wrapped them around a towel shaped like an elephant. It makes us laugh. 

In the evening after work, we stroll along a tourist street. I get a scoop each of pistachio and mango gelato. It is delicious. Across the street is a surf shop. Of course. This is Bali.

W has to top up our phone so we have internet. The local 7-11 has shelves of cut fresh fruit. Yum! Some restaurants even have vegan and vegetarian offerings to please the tourists. It's so different from where we live.

Along the road, a man taps a dome-like bell. Sweet sounds fill the air.
Most restaurants and shops have a shrine with food or flowers and a statue. These sit mute and still. (Only our God watches, speaks, and interacts with his creation.)
We've learned so much this week and had sweet conversations with fellow non-profit workers. After a morning walk on the beach, W and I take John and Ryan for lunch. It's John's 40-something birthday and no one should spend that alone, right?

Then we drive 1 1/2 hours north. (We've added 2 nights as a mini-break before we head home.) With negotiations between the driver's "known way" - which is at a traffic standstill - and W's Waze app, it takes us 3 hours.

It is utterly pouring when we arrive. We hop out of the taxi just as someone comes by with raincoats for sale. We grab two for $3, shrug our damp bodies into them, and run for the reception desk, dragging sopping wet luggage. It costs $20/night for us to stay here, but it truly feels like we have a few days off.

There are 28 steps to our room at the Airbnb. We lock the door; simple but effective. We hope.

Below our window, the water is overflowing the pool in the courtyard, the skies are angry grey, and we have to stay in until the downpour stops. (The photo improves on the real thing: the coconut tree framing the foreground makes it look amazing, right?)

Inside, the shower pan is cut into the floor, with loose gravel spread in the basin. I hope the stones have been sprayed with bleach; otherwise, there's a lot of area for foot bacteria.

 Every house and yard seems to have a Hindu-style entry with statues inside and out.

We talk to an Australian couple sitting near us at dinner. Then it's back to the room. We're tired. W's asleep by 8pm.

Read more:
*I made the earth, and created humankind upon it. Isaiah 45:12
*The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11:2
All in the crowd were trying to touch Jesus, for power came out from him. Luke 6:19
*God is not far from each one of us. Acts 17:27
*But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,  by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. Ephesians 2:13-16 NIV
Moravian Prayer: Loving Creator—you made us to be in relationship with you. Help us to be ever mindful of your presence in us and in all of creation around us. 
Spirit of wisdom, our hearts are grateful that you are in control. We ask that in your divine justice and mercy, you guide our steps into the way of your peace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy Canada and USA days

Canada Day (July 1) and America Day (July 4) have come and gone. With a whirlwind of events, we are looking forward to a bit of a breather - well, maybe after today's morning and evenings studies.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Date day. Which means we explore Bandung. After lunch, we meet up with Robin at a rattan warehouse. I love these old caves of culture and artisans. I find an old puppet for $1.50 and wonder what stories he told.

The upstairs floors are filled with old sample pieces. Ooooh, how I'd love a few pieces, to replace the broken leather furniture on our porch (leftovers from previous tenants, which are disintegrating with age).

We have two wonderful new team members, Australians who are here through October. Scott and Sarah will hang out with younger people as they learn the language and explore Bandung. (Let us know if your teens want to be part of their adventures.)

It's election day. I'm conducting an interview in a southern city. On the way, we pass a variety of voting booths. It's a peaceful holiday as people choose mayors and governors in several key areas of Indonesia.

We check out a venue for Community Dinners, a regular event coming up in the fall. Looks good!
A lipstick vine hangs from a hook. I remember my mother-in-law nurturing one of those about 35 years ago ...

It's a special day, starting with the women's study in the morning.

In the afternoon, Arga is getting baptized. His friends come together to cheer him on. W does the honors at the pool at their place. His parents make a delicious feast to celebrate with friends afterward.

School holidays only have a few more weeks to go. Many friends are traveling. In the evening, we're missing a lot of regulars but still have a great study.

It's Canada Day but it's a small gathering at BIC this morning, so no one mentions it. (Typically laid back Canadian day.) We have lunch with friends after service and then have a few people over later in the day.

The big announcement is that the pastor will not return from furlough, beyond a transition with his leadership team. We will certainly miss Terry and Sandy; they not only were spiritual mentors but also friends. So many "regulars" have moved away this year. Few of the original attendees remain, even from 4 years ago, which is typical of the mobile population of an international church. We are very sad to see them go.

We need a few supplies. After our lunch date, we walk a few miles to find things. It's impossible to separate life and work here. We find a new food wholesaler for tomorrow's movie night. Good - this one is about a half-hour closer to our place.

The most recommendations from movie buffs come in for Sandlot, a baseball/American life film. We decide on a pizza night since it's an American holiday.

Thinking of pizza, I'm totally craving these from Trader Joes. Friends are coming to a conference next week and promise to pack some in their luggage. HURRAH!

An egg seller has a small store along the street. From here, grocers will buy eggs for their little shops around the city--or we can buy in bulk. Eggs are not refrigerated, which is safe because the protective coating hasn't been removed by power-washing. (Thanks for that tip, Rebekah!)

As I check Google maps, it confirms the density of the city. A lot of people live here.

My eye falls on a "snake plant" or "mother-in-law's tongue", a common houseplant in N America. It is blooming with white spikes of flowers. Must thrive in more sunshine.

When we get home, I chop a few inches off my hair and cut in some layers. Wandering onto the porch, I spread moss around a tray of seashells. (I tore some moss off a tree on our morning walk.) That's enough creative living for the day. These little pauses refresh me, especially when we've been around a lot of people or stuck in traffic.

Movie night falls on July 4. I spend the morning preparing toppings - roasting pineapple, green peppers, and pepperoni; chopping olives; canned corn; and filling shakers with parmesan and chili flakes. We order 12 one-meter-long pizzas (under $200, can you imagine?) Prep takes longer than cooking a whole meal. Or maybe I just started later.

After setting up the projectors, W and a helper move the furniture out of the living room and rearrange the room for +70 guests. W takes a picture of the setup; I spend an hour looking up last month's arrangement in my photo feed as we move things here and there. (W forgot to snap the rearrangements last month. We have so much going on, that we can't remember details, except that it worked well.)

I finally get a mini-nap after 4pm. Not a good idea to cut that snooze short - have to store up energy for the evening.

Not a lot of Americans live here. We have mostly Indonesian guests, too ... and their friends from 23 other countries. These two lovelies are the first to show up. Baby, it's cold outside (67oF/20C) and they're prepared for the cold winter winds blowing in from Australia.

"Aren't you too warm?" I ask.

No. They're just comfortable.

 Inside and out, the house fills up. We are saying goodbye to a few regulars, who are returning to Japan and a few "kans" - Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, etc. We will miss these wonderful young professionals and pray God's protection and guidance on them as they head back home.

These wonderful women clean up until 10pm. The bonus is a few bags of food to take home to their families. The last guests leave at 11:30. ZZZZ

My office is totally cluttered. The desk is full of papers for 3 projects: upcoming classes, two articles, and a book edit. The furniture from last night's movie night is piled around my desk. Soon, all will be back to order, something the easily-distracted-me craves.

The guys manhandle furniture and chotchkis back into the living room. And I sigh with relief. Onward ho.

On my desk is the calendar our daughter-in-love Melissa makes for my birthday each year. This month, sweet Miss K is featured. At the holidays, we miss our family most.

Mid-morning, three women come to the study. We read John 3, the declaration of Jesus of who he is. There's no middle ground, someone says. Either Jesus is who he says he is ... or he was a lunatic and a liar. Hmmm. Something to think about.

Read more: (John 3)
*There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus. He was one of the Jewish rulers. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. We know that God is with you. If he weren’t, you couldn’t do the signs you are doing.”
Jesus replied, “What I’m about to tell you is true. No one can see God’s kingdom unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “They can’t go back inside their mother! They can’t be born a second time!”
Jesus answered, “What I’m about to tell you is true. No one can enter God’s kingdom unless they are born with water and the Holy Spirit. People give birth to people. But the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised when I say, ‘You must all be born again.’ The wind blows where it wants to. You hear the sound it makes. But you can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going. It is the same with everyone who is born with the Spirit.”
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus. “Don’t you understand these things? What I’m about to tell you is true. We speak about what we know. We are witnesses about what we have seen. But still you people do not accept what we say. I have spoken to you about earthly things, and you do not believe. So how will you believe if I speak about heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven. He is the Son of Man. Moses lifted up the snake in the desert [find that story is in Number 21]. In the same way, the Son of Man must also be lifted up. Then everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. Anyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world. He sent his Son to save the world through him. Anyone who believes in him is not judged. But anyone who does not believe is judged already. They have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. Here is the judgment. Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light. They loved darkness because what they did was evil. Everyone who does evil deeds hates the light. They will not come into the light. They are afraid that what they do will be seen. But anyone who lives by the truth comes into the light. They live by the truth with God’s help. They come into the light so that it will be easy to see their good deeds.
After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the countryside of Judea. There he spent some time with them. And he baptized people there. John was also baptizing. He was at Aenon near Salim, where there was plenty of water. People were coming and being baptized. This was before John was put in prison. 
Some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew began to argue. They argued about special washings to make people “clean.” They came to John and here is what they said to him. “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan River is baptizing people. He is the one you told us about. Everyone is going to him.”
John replied, “A person can receive only what God gives them from heaven. You yourselves are witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah. I was sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the groom. The friend who helps the groom waits and listens for him. He is full of joy when he hears the groom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become more important. I must become less important.
“The one who comes from above is above everything. The one who is from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks like someone from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above everything. He is a witness to what he has seen and heard. But no one accepts what he says. Anyone who has accepted it has said, ‘Yes. God is truthful.’ The one whom God has sent speaks God’s words. That’s because God gives the Holy Spirit without limit. The Father loves the Son and has put everything into his hands. Anyone who believes in the Son has eternal life. Anyone who does not believe in the Son will not have life. God’s anger remains on them.”
Prayer: One and Only God, though I may not understand the mystery of how You forgive our sins, I accept that You have done it. You loved us so much that You made a way to fulfill Your holiness and justice and bring sinners like me close to You. 
Thank you for Jesus, who reconciles us to God by taking the penalty for our sins upon himself. We accept Your divine solution, with thanksgiving. Please teach us how to extend that same love and forgiveness with others. Amen.