Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A new president for Indonesia

Guppy bowl
Today it feels hot. We haven't started the wet season yet, though it's usually here by the beginning of October. Weather is measured by "dry" and "wet" seasons. Temperatures are similar year-round.

When we first moved in, the landlord donated a few dozen guppies for the basin outside. They eat mosquito larvae. When we get home from a trip, I catch a few for the bowl in the house. We bought an 8" LED light to keep the plants alive but didn't bother with a filter. I dump them back into the little pond when we leave. They're doing their job and they must be happy, having more than doubled in number.

Monday, October 20

From the BBC: the President's trademark hand gesture
Indonesia officially swears in a new president, Joko Widodo (popularly called Jokowi). He will have to balance the interests of the people with the decisions of entrenched politicians. We've watched other politicians and it seems that demanding change - without enlisting political and wealthy peers and ignoring majority interest groups - is guaranteed to polarize rather than unite a country. We're praying that God gives this new leader great wisdom during his 5-year term.

The inauguration day is a delight: it includes a swearing-in ceremony, prayers, parades, celebrations in various parts of Indonesia, and the cutting of a traditional cone of yellow rice, which Jokowi serves to people he's promising to help. These individuals represent groups without empowerment in the past, including single moms with kids, the poor, and islanders far from government halls, like those in Papua New Guinea. His campaign volunteers stream into the streets to cheer him on, while TVs serve as focal points for those who are unable to attend in person.

Tumpeng: a traditional way to honor guests
Miss Bee's Restaurant prepared for Hallowe'en
This evening, some gals have brought their girlfriend to our local restaurant, probably to celebrate her promotion or birthday. They paint her face with ridiculous makeup, wear silly hats, and have a happy noisy party at a nearby table. W snaps some pictures as the gals giggle together.

Waldemar hooks a mosquito net above the bed before he falls asleep at 8pm. He wakes again for an hour at 10 and then sleeps until early morning. I have another restless night.

The security guys bang on the metal fences each time they do their rounds through the neighborhood. At 3am, the local mosque begins a chant and before long the hillsides resound with the echoes from other centers. We pray when we awaken - for the new President and his team. For the peace of Indonesia. For great favor with nations around the world. For the safety of our neighbors. To be able to share and live out Good News.

Ikea fabric clips and sheets=new curtains
to replace the dirty gold ones

It's nice to wake up to clean curtains. When we moved in, I washed the old ones, an ugly gold-ish color that never cleaned up.

Now, with the bugs temporarily banished in our bedroom, I can start to inject personality into the decor. W brought back IKEA curtain clips that our kids picked up for us. I'd purchased extra flat sheets at Zara Home last month.

The solution to an ugly window? Take down the depressing drapes, make a quick measurement, fold down the top of the sheet to get the right curtain length, and clip on the hooks. The hooks fit through the existing curtain rods. How easy. There's no cutting. The room feels much cheerier.

Cool "slippers" for miles of walking. Thanks, Lia!
Language school starts at 8 as usual. Ibu A arrives before 7am, just as we are leaving the house to walk 1 km to the main street. We flag down the bus and hop off where it turns. We walk another 2-3 km to school. I'm wearing new sneakers from Lia. Oh my - I rarely find a shoe that doesn't rub a blister into my feet the first time around. Not these! It's like wearing supportive slippers.

We do a lot of review in class today. What a relief. We're actually starting to remember some of the words.

"Be happy. You can talk in sentences," Guru Josie encourages us. "You couldn't do that a few weeks ago." True.

Meanwhile, Ibu A has made a delicious lunch with baked chicken breast, green beans, rice, and papaya. She eats with Pak E in one kitchen while we eat at the main table. It's a bit weird but our expat friends have strongly warned us not to demand that they eat with us: doing so is not honoring to them or us.

She tells us our landlord has informed her husband (the carpenter repairing the house) that he must finish repairing the house this week. Today, Pak E is replacing the rotted beam on the garage ceiling. It holds up the roof so we haven't been able to store things in the garage attic: there's been a danger of the roof collapsing. Pak E is not allowed to do the two wings (4 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a kitchen). I guess we'll be negotiating to pro-rate the lease agreement for next year accordingly. The work has to be done and the carpenter seems to be hardworking. He's done a good job so far.

Ibu A shares a cup of chai with us - oh what yummy tea from W's sis. When W returned, we sent a box of Peppermint Tea home with Ibu A. She tells us she likes Trader Joe's Peppermint Tea as much as we do. We browse through the pictures W took at her nephew's circumcision party a few weeks ago. We'll make copies so she can have them at home.

It's such an honor to pray. To think about how we can serve those we are getting to know.

Read more:
*To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame. Psalm 25:1-2 NEV

*Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! Psalm 27:14 NEV

*I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart. Psalm 40:8 NEV

*The Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost. Luke 19:10 NEV

*I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ's return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation-the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ-for this will bring much glory and praise to God. Philippians 1:9-11 NLT

Moravian Prayer: Seeker of the lost, grant us the courage to rise out of our comfortable pews and go into the world sharing the good news. Send your refreshing spirit upon our churches that we may add to your kingdom. Amen.

C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity
‘Niceness’—wholesome, integrated personality—is an excellent thing. We must try by every medical, educational, economic, and political means in our power to produce a world where as many people as possible grow up ‘nice’; just as we must try to produce a world where all have plenty to eat. But we must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world—and might even be more difficult to save.

For mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine. God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. It is not like teaching a horse to jump better and better but like turning a horse into a winged creature. Of course, once it has got its wings, it will soar over fences which could never have been jumped and thus beat the natural horse at its own game. But there may be a period, while the wings are just beginning to grow, when it cannot do so: and at that stage the lumps on the shoulders—no one could tell by looking at them that they are going to be wings—may even give it an awkward appearance. ...

Here is another thing that used to puzzle me. Is it not frightfully unfair that this new life should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him? But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him. But in the meantime, if you are worried about the people outside, the most unreasonable thing you can do is to remain outside yourself. Christians are Christ’s body, the organism through which He works. Every addition to that body enables Him to do more. If you want to help those outside you must add your own little cell to the body of Christ who alone can help them. Cutting off a man’s fingers would be an odd way of getting him to do more work.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Homeward bound

Opa plays peekaboo with the grandkids
Sunday, October 19

He's back. Yay - Waldemar brought himself, tea, and a few other things from Seattle - including Christmas ornaments from our kids. It is good to have him back. I was in Jakarta while he was gone, for reasons of safety, security, and sanity.


After my day of language studies and relaxation on Wednesday, J sends a driver over Thursday morning to pick me up for Life Group. After passing through several security checkpoints,  we make it to Sally's lovely apartment and a warm welcome.

Flowers plucked from the yard, in a one-of-a-kind vase :
glass hand-poured over a little tree stump.
There's something about meeting with women. We share an instant camaraderie. These women are travelers who have roamed the world and encountered many world-views and curiosities. 8 of us gather around a beautiful round table to talk about living out our common faith. J is a natural leader and facilitator. She and S are a great team: our discussion centers around Jesus' request about inviting the outcasts and needy to share in God's generosity.

The papaya and mango cubes are delicious, and the spicy rice, wrapped in banana leaf, tastes enak-enak (totally yummy). The fruit here has overtones of flavor beyond the standard kinds we can buy in North America.

J tells me the driver has worked for the family since she was 14. Now her children are the same age, and the driver continues to bless them. The driver's son is doing the same. How cool! The older driver has me back at the flat before 2. I thought I was tired enough to take a nap but end up watching Indonesian and Korean TV (sound and story) and studying. Twelve hours later, I fall asleep.


Sometime in the week, Avery and I
have the old polish peeled off our toes
and our feet made sandal-ready.
Hearing Avery's heart for ministry and her call to God's mission encourages me. She's lives in the church-owned flat where W and I landed in Jakarta. For the week, while W's gone, I enjoy the clean space and deep sleep of nothing in bed but me. No bug falls nearby, no dirt lands on the sheets in the guest room. Ah - "sleep tight, don't let the bugs bite" is a sweet thought.

While W and I are gone, our helper and her husband sleep over at our place. They stay hard at work all week. He builds bamboo scaffolding so he can take apart, clean, and fumigate the ceilings. (They're as high as 17' high  at the ridge.) Every day, Ibu A will clean the mess that falls down. She also washes and irons our bedding and scrapes the hard-water stains from the bathroom floors and scrubs the dirt from our bedroom floor.

The landlord apparently comes by a few times. He is appalled by the live termites. (No, they weren't all dead as he'd hoped!) The leasing agents also swing by. Ibu A says they take pictures for their records. Good! We don't contact anyone at the house while we're away but let them work away. We'll find out the news - good or bad - when we get home.


PD preaches on the Prodigal Son with
Micha's creation as backdrop
There's time for a swim in the pool before heading to church around noon. The staff is wonderful: they share stories and advice about learning the language and starting small groups. Katie promises to share her 2-week intensive course notes. Mario reads our text in amazement: "No one speaks like that! We used those words back when I was in elementary school. They're so old-fashioned." Maybe Jakarta is hipper than Bandung, too?

The senior pastor's family and our friends the B's take exceptional care of us. It's the little things that stump us. I buy a big drink at Starbucks in the lobby because I missed lunch. However, Stephano B shows me how to order lunch through the church's helpers, who run down to the shops on the lower levels of the skyscraper and bring up food. Meanwhile, the worship pastor is hard at work on the stage design. Micha is full of creative ideas - I'm often surprised by what he comes up with.

Gourami fish at Senayan Restaurant
The service refreshes my heart. Oh the worship! Though I'm not a singer, the music always minister to me. (Click here to hear one of my favorites online.) Pastor Dave's message is on Luke 15 (about the lost sheep, lost coin, and prodigal son and his brother). He invites us into God's presence and then sends us as messengers of hope into the world.

Afterwards, B's take me home - but first we stop for traditional Indonesian food: chicken saté, gourami fish, a Javanese soup with crisp chips and roasted peanuts, garlic crackers, and rice. Indonesians know how to cook! It heartens me up to be with friends: I'm missing my husband.


W calls from the airport after 8am: he's landed and is getting luggage. I dive into the pool for a quick swim but forget to put in my earplugs. The foam keeps popping out of my wet ears so I manage only 20 laps and have to quit.

Volunteers (including Avery) participate in
a medical and children's service day in Jakarta
Before I know it, there's a knock at the door and there he is! Hurrah - larger than life and energetic: he slept on each flight and had no trouble at immigration or customs.

I debated all weekend: should I drive the car to Bandung or have the tired man drive? I make the decision based on this: "I only regret what I don't try. "So I hop into the passenger seat with the car key - oops - remember you'll be on the right side of the car as driver. Step out and get in the right side door.

It's a piece of cake. Traffic is comparatively light and vehicles flow from lane to lane. Sometimes it's stop and go. I have to get used to the tolls and I occasionally flip on the wipers instead of the turn signal. Weird. Wipers are on the left, signals are on the right. (W did the same when he first drove; he admits he did it again in Seattle after driving here.) But no problem. Who cares? And the windows are clean.

It's relaxing and fun to drive after 4 months of riding along. It's certainly less nerve-wracking to negotiate the freeways and winding neighborhoods as driver than as passenger! We're home in less than than 2.5 hours, even with zig-zag detours as directed by Waze (app).

Ibu A and Pak E have been working their hearts out at the house. Your prayers have brought this dear Sundanese couple to us. We could not have found better help. Ibu A and I agree with big smiles that we two are happier with progress. The house is sooo much cleaner. She kisses my cheeks and gives me a big hug because I'm so pleased. We say we are adik and kakak (little and big sisters, though I'm just a few years older.)

The curtains she washed and rehung have gone from dirty gold to a lighter shade. The only "crumbs" on the kitchen counter are from the kitchen cabinets where termites still rule. The cabinets need replacing, with or without the landlord's help. (If we and our mission partners have to fund them, we'll put the old junk back when we leave and take the new cabinets along.)

Pak E has built a frame for the sink and replaced the crumbling drawer, eaten away by termites in our bathroom. He's finished replacing and fumigating the ceiling in our bedroom, one living room, and the kitchen, and is working on the offices and other rooms. Nothing seems to be missing or broken. We give our helpers Seattle chocolates and tea, with a jar of peanut butter for their grandkids. And offer our heartfelt thanks. Much better than expected - or hoped. Onward - until it's done. Thanks be to God!

When Ibu A leaves, I snag a dozen guppies from the pond for our indoor fish bowl, arrange flowers in a vase we bought in Lombok (at the field retreat in July), and put up fresh shower curtains. They started as white sheets "painted" with Sharpee markers to cheer up the windows of my Seattle office.

We head to town at 3. I haven't eaten yet! and W had breakfast in Singapore at 6am. (If I don't eat breakfast, I am not hungry.) I enjoy a half dinner and W helps out by eating his and a chunk of mine. He's looking for a new doorknob for the bathroom (currently doesn't close) and new locks for the bedroom  (we've loaned out our keys while away). I pass 11,000 steps for the first time since W left Indonesia - and actually enjoy the familiarity of the little angkot public buses.

Lia shares beauty as easily as most
of us breathe in and out.
When W unpacks, it's a bit like Christmas. Jim and Sallee gave us two plastic bins last year so we could pack fragile things. W's included my dental retainer, bug repellent, and greeting cards from Trader Joes, amongst other things. Our kids put in a personal ornament each. (I brought only two silver hearts from home. They'd look lonely at Christmas! No worries now - we have enough for a small display.) Kim sends dot notebooks.  Sylvia sends home magazines and tea. Mom K's jam and my mom's cookies promise good tastes to come. Sharon sends chocolate chips. Other friends tuck a bit of this and that from home in: I'm overwhelmed by their love and the greetings W passes along.

Perfect shoes to go with other treats
When evening comes, I open the last package - from my friend Lia. It makes me smile just looking at the box. She is an artist through and through: even the package brings great pleasure! And inside = marvelous shoes, a Seahawks T-shirt, and a journal notebook. I've been keeping my eyes out for a guest book without success. This book is the PERFECT size and color. Every guest can enjoy it with us!

W turns the TV on to an Indonesia channel - and instantly falls asleep. It's 8pm. He did pretty well!! I'm up until 11. We have school tomorrow so we'll be up again at 5:45am.

Read more:
*Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 NEV

*Thus shall you say to one another, among yourselves, “What has the Lord answered?” or “What has the Lord spoken?” Jeremiah 23:35 NEV

*Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:17 NEV

Moravian Prayer: Father, help us to understand and accept your will. Open our hearts to see the many answers to our prayers that you have given us. Thank you for your spiritual presence in our lives and let us be living witnesses for Jesus. Amen.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Left behind: the week between this and that

 It’s indeed a peaceful time tonight, Tuesday. I’m in Jakarta for the week while W is in the States on company business. Hopefully the workers at our house in Bandung are scraping off the bug accumulations to make it a comfy place for guests and friends. Here's what's happened so far:

W, happy with his 82c haircut and art excursion,
holds up his masterpiece
Thursday, October 9, 2014

Today's cultural experience is a trip with the language class to Barli's Art school near Bandung. He's a famous painter. His wife greets us and introduces the school. First we shake bamboo instruments that are tuned to C scale. I get the instrument pitched E. When #3 (E) shows up on the chart, I shake it. We play a few songs, mostly movie themes.

"Play by numbers". Each person gets a
bamboo instrument with the pitch number on it
Then we get to paint! Oh, I've been thinking about a flower on the neighbor's shrub for a week - and wanting to paint it. Instead of the bold graphics others put on their vases, I try to remember the flower. It's not a successful likeness, but I don't care. It's such a relief to hold a paintbrush again.

becomes this.

Isabelle, you definitely earned those flowers!
We're all proud of you.
From school, W drives to Jakarta.    Drives.    To Jakarta.    Believe me, it's a big deal. We pull into the gates of the apartment with great relief. He packs and repacks and makes sure everything is set to leave for Seattle. I press down my feelings about being left behind. Focus on the positive. I'll have time for language studies. How exciting. 

We eat homemade soba noodles at Dave and Gigi's with 2 other pastors. They have invited us to the first night of a school play for which their daughter is stage manager. It's funny, professional, and presented in a gorgeous auditorium. Many professional companies would be happy to do as well as these students of the #1 International high school in Jakarta. 

And W flies home.


Wake. Pray. Swim. Thank you God for water and the ability to move and float through it. That is all.

A net covers the open casket.
Then we head to the wake of Tirza's dad. (He was younger than we are.) Throughout the day, various staff members go to her parents' church and express their sympathy. She preaches the memorial service that evening.

At IESJakarta, we're in a series called, "Dr. Luke invites you to dinner." Pastor Dave encourages us to leave our preconceptions of church rules behind, to continue the mission of Jesus. We share communion in groups across the auditorium.


Avery and I have a day off. After a swim and language study, we're at Pondok Indah Mall before 1pm. First, we secure an appointment for a foot massage. I’ve seen a map of the mall so I’m pretty sure where the place is. 

"Where is the Kenzo massage store?" we ask the man at the mall door . 

He points to another mall across the street. “You have to go to Mall 1. There is no such place here.” We walk past him into the parking lot in spite of his directions and there it is, the first shop outside the door. However, the earliest availability for a session is at 5pm.

What on earth is there to do in a mall for 4 hours?! We eat lunch at a Japanese fast-food booth and look around. I walk 8000 steps, try on a few things, and buy trousers and a top. Avery has only been in town for 2 weeks. She finds bargains on shoes, a pretty dress, and a few other bits she needs as she settles in.

Finally, it’s time for dim lights and a foot rub. The past months of walking have pinched a nerve so my big toe seizes up when I point my toes. The massage helps. We buy a few groceries afterwards and take a taxi home at 7. By 8, we’ve made supper: rice, corn, and sausage. Yum. 

My evening task: sending out our weekly photo of The New Normal to a few hundred subscribers. And learning a few more words.


After my quick swim (30 laps), Pastor Dave takes us along to church at 9. The staff meeting is the highlight of my week when we’re here. I love the liturgy, praying and reading scriptures that have been spoken by generations before us. It gives me a sense of continuity and community, of God living among his people in different places, at different times. Micha, the arts leader, brings a blow-in keyboard to lead the 2 guitars playing for worship. “Never a dull moment,” says another staff member. Sounds good though.

Lunch together is time for everyone to relax. We talk about theology, life, and ministry. Our hearts turn toward Tirza and her loss. We also share stories of how strange and funny Church life can be. We are odd ducks, one and all, swimming in the common pond of God’s grace.

Guess what we saw at the mall? yup - a Lamborghini or two
One of the staff is speaking at High Tea, a gathering of about 25 women in a nearby hotel. We're a bit early so we walk through the mall to the hotel lobby, admiring the Italian cars parked between shops.

Worship starts with a cha-cha-cha rhythm programmed into the keyboard. The women sing with enthusiasm. 

The speaker points out that each of us is lost, using three stories from Luke 15. Some of us wander off (the lost sheep), some are lost through circumstances (the lost coin), and others willfully disobey (the Prodigal Son). Christ seeks us out and reconciles us with God. I’m full of wonder at God’s persistence. My heart is refreshed. When we’re done, the table is spread with a dozen main dishes and desserts.

The wife of one of the original founders of IESJakarta encourages me. Others talk about their interests, ask for help with visas (sorry – I’m not American), and otherwise include me in their conversations. I’d attend the meeting regularly if we lived here.

Pastor Dave, our coach and mentor, asks me today how much language we want to acquire. We actually don’t know that yet. We think the answer will become clearer as we get to know people around us. We probably want enough Bahasa Indonesia that the hearts and intentions of those around us are not completely hidden.

Dreaming of a kitchen cabinet strong enough to hold
our dishes ... what's going on at home while I'm gone?
This is supposed to be my week to catch up on language studies. (As if I could learn 300+ words a day and actually catch up.) It’s discouraging to review the list of 100 words written down the first two days. There’s no capturing all this vocabulary in the next months, never mind this week. But it’s exciting to think that we will know what all this means – in due time. I try to memorize three or four words, a few times a day. Some stick. Others are new each time I look at them. I try out the words as we go out. Even the little I know helps in getting around. Berkumpul: gather. Berangkat: leave.

Before 6, we’ve driven home in the lightest traffic I’ve seen in Jakarta. I tackle my language book, eat a mini-Magnum ice cream bar, write, and talk to a peer in Seattle before heading to sleep at midnight.

Read more:
*I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1 ESV

*Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV

*Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Patient Father, when we do not understand the events of life that trouble us, let us turn to you in prayer. Change our sorrows into joy. Give us the courage to show our thanks in all circumstances. Thank you, Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Two Teas till Tuesday

A find: where to enjoy Indian food
We discover a good Indian restaurant with our friends from India. So Sunday, our post-church lunch is excellent. The debate is where to eat that is not too warm. Ah, a breeze is blowing through the patio. Snag a seat, enjoy a banana leaf plate, and eat with your (newly washed) fingers. Totally yummy. So what if your thumb gets stained yellow by the curries.

Monday, October 7

After class, we run some errands. The bank reminds us that we need our original passports and visas for banking transactions. So our bank business must wait until tomorrow. One more stop before we head home: the water bill has to be paid each month in person,  downtown. (Apparently our bank doesn't do money transfers to pay online. Oh well.)

We're home in time to take a short nap. W's not 100% well yet and I'm tired from a short night. Crash.

The strange juxtaposition that is Bandung: palm trees,
Dutch heritage (a windmill on a bakery), planes overhead,
and the chaos of unregulated buildings
Dr. W crosses the street at 5, from her house to ours. She exclaims over the new arrangement. We've moved furniture, making the rooms more livable with the same stuff we inherited. We haven't added art or made it our own yet.

We share a late tea of homemade apple pancakes, cut papaya and lime, and a few local baked goods. The pancakes are fresh and hot. We've begun a neighborly tradition of taking food home. We always have goodies after visiting Dr. W's house so she happily takes some pancakes for tomorrow's breakfast with her. We talk about how God loves us and how grateful we are for his care.

In the evening, I try to review some of our language studies. A few things are starting to stick in my brain. Acquisition is slow but W insists that we'll reach a critical mass when lots of words will sort themselves out. We're glad to be learning grammar as well as vocabulary. Having a TV helps SO much. We've begun to piece together patterns of how the language is used.

Tuesday, October 8

Watch your feet. A typical
sidewalk ... when there is one.
Today's class focus is review - just the two of us and a tutor, without Augustine and Sumathi. They've flown off for a week, conducting business in India. I miss my friends already. During the half-hour class break, W heads to the bank with our passports. He comes back with the mission accomplished.

We are welcomed home by the usual savory smells of Bu A's cooking. Today she's cut up a fresh mango and baked a casserole of rice, broccoli, cauliflower, and sausage. It's another winner - she has a flair for seasoning! Both W and I have seconds. One of us has thirds. I ask her if she will cook this - (and the gourami fish and the wilted green veges) when we have company. They'll love it!

She and her husband Pak E are living in the house while we're gone next week. He and another fellow will open the ceilings to clean out the insect damage. Theoretically that will clear out most of the mess we live in. I don't really want to be here while that's done! Ibu A will clear out what falls down. I'm hoping to come back to a clean house, but she warns me that the men might not finish the whole place before we get back.

W heads out for a haircut while I wrap my blanket over my head and nap for an hour. It was another short night last night. I woke a few minutes after falling asleep and then couldn't get back to resting until almost midnight. The morning arrived too soon: on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we're up at 5:30am.

Dr. H is a wonderful hostess.
At 4, we get lost on our way to tea at Dr H's place. She's the medical doctor we met on the way to church Sunday. Luckily, we have a phone number. We turn around and go the opposite way. There she is! waiting on the street for us. Her husband cannot speak English and we're not yet fluent in bahasa Indonesia. Soon, we tell ourselves. Soon.

Dr. H speaks excellent English, among other languages. Before she retired, she studied or worked in public health in Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh, and around Indonesia. Her house is lovely. She's collected ethic art throughout SE Asia. The territorial views from the upper floor - on three sides of the house - are stunning. The rooms wrap around a plant-filled, two-storey atrium that makes us feel like we've stowed away in a secluded greenbelt. The wind rustles the palm fronds reaching for the sky beside us as we sip tea and eat.

Oh my - she has prepared a lot for her high school reunion which ended before we arrived, and also for us. We sample the banana-leaf wrapped rice and Dutch Croquettes. Both delicious. (Regrets because we ate so much of Ibu A's good home-cooking? Ah ... nope. Never.)

Before: the windowsill looks a little worn but not bad
After: simply lift the sill off for evidence: happy termites indeed
The sun has set by the time we get home. House repairs are ongoing. W packs for Seattle and Springfield and is asleep by 8pm. Meanwhile, I write, read, and send out a New Normal photo to subscribers.

Email us at rosemee@hotmail.com, subject line: New Normal, if you'd enjoy a photo every week or two = something that is normal here but not seen in Seattle. There's no obligation and it's one click to unsubscribe if you change your mind.

Read more:
*If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. Genesis 4:7 NIV

*Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. Joel 2:23-24 NIV

*Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV*See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.

But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3 NIV

Moravian Prayer: Great conqueror of sin and death, thank you for the strength and courage that your Spirit provides. Keep us firm in our faith and grounded in truth. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the destruction of sin. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Strange stories

Goats come in all colors (including this one in "Oreo Cookie").
Both does and bucks are sold for sacrifices. The seller quotes
$200-400 each but locals get better prices than we would.
Connections are on my mind tonight. How does God tie life together for you? Here are a few of our connections this weekend, in these strange stories of God-with-us.

1. Spiritual. The sounds of the mosque prayers rang out from 5:30pm last night (Saturday) until this morning. The prayer-callers were busy off and on yesterday but the real action started at sunset. "Ear plugs are a good idea," suggests my friend across the street. I fall asleep at 1am, with the voices bouncing off the hills. Of course I'm exhausted when I wake at 6:30.

This past week, in anticipation of the 4-day feast of Eid al-Adha, goats were sold on many street corners. A looped rope is passed through a temporary bamboo railing and connects the heads of pairs of goats. We saw slaughtered animals on the backs of motorcycles and live ones trotting along the side of the street with buyers holding the leashes. Goodbye 

Cousins celebrate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice Ishmael and God's provision of a lamb instead. (The Bible names Isaac. Same story. Different sons. Genesis 22) On our way home from church, W points out various crowds gathered in open spaces. He thinks they might be doing ritual slaughter. I want to check it out but his stomach is still not up to much after some kind of bug last week. He isn't in any shape to hop off the angkot with me and I can't stay by myself. We miss the whole thing but maybe next year.

Communion with the Baptists: the table
set with flowers and a caption overhead -
Holiness to the Lord
The many local prayers and rituals remind us that God is found in relationship. We are so grateful for the Son who loved us and gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins! He is the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8).

2. People: We couldn't plan the connections God is bringing our way. Friday, some gals from IES Jakarta hail me in a Bandung outlet store. It's only my second excursion into the outlets since we got here. We're choosing a few gifts for W to take to our Seattle family. The Jakartans are on a shopping stop, before meeting a group for white-water rafting Saturday. 

One of them mentions that her family lives in Bandung. "My mom would like to meet you," she says. She takes my phone number.

This morning (Sunday), we are running late on the way to church. A lady walks up to us as we wait for the angkot at the main street. "Are you Rosemarie?" she asks.

I admit it with some surprise. She asks a few more questions, including whether we are connected with IES Jakarta. (Yes we are.) We discover that she is the "Friday Girl's" mom, who we were hoping to meet. She lives only a few blocks from our house. We find out she's a medical doctor as we ride in together. We sit in the same bench at church and introduce her to our friends Sumathi and Augustine. She introduces us to her friends in the parking lot after service. We exchange phone numbers and she also invites me to tea at her place on Tuesday.

German honey cookies and "biscotti"
 (almond cookies)
3. Cultural: Food reminds us of home. I've been craving a taste we can't get here and I don't know what it is. When we moved, I packed a little Baggie of cookies baked by my mom last Christmas - yes, we eat them all year. Today I opened the bag for the first time. We pulled out 2 cookies each for W and me. Eating them helped.

4. Habits: I'm spacey in learning and easily distracted. To get through my PhD, I'd run a bath and sit in the hot water, reading my textbooks until the bubbles were gone. It became a brain-saving habit.

I'm really far behind in language class memorization. Our surroundings-in-process have meant a big diversion of energy. All kinds of "little things" are missing in the house, including drain stoppers. W hasn't been able to find one anywhere in Bandung. Even ACE Hardware has been out for months with no idea when they'll have stock again.

Ugly but effective. Yes, that wrench is
in the bath water, white hard-water stains
line the edges, and a hole-to-nowhere
has been drilled in the tub itself...
In desperation today, I finally stop up the drain with plastic wrap. W loans me a crescent wrench to keep it from floating away - and I get my first bathtub-study session. It takes ages to fill water to 4" with the low-pressure shower head. (There is no direct faucet.) The hard water stains have resisted scrubbing and I loathe burgundy (the tub color). But I get a lot of work done between reheating the water and looking up words on Google Translate.

5. Serendipity: we can't anticipate God's gifts. Saturday, we drive to the train station about noon to meet someone delivering a TV purchased for us by friends from IES Jakarta. The tiny porter, also laden with 2 suitcases for another man, walks to our car with the big package.

I've forgotten how quiet a house is without TV or radio. (W listens to his beloved jazz on headphones.) We already recognize a lot of words on the news. We need to listen for an hour or more a day to capture the language and how it's used. How grateful we are for this provision!

Today we hear good news. Our friends have negotiated the return of W's IPhone! It was pick-pocketed 6 or 7 weeks ago in Jakarta. It took the Bs many weeks of talking but they meet up with the kids who purchased it (and couldn't make it work.) Yay for Apple's lock-out ... and especially for God's grace and favor. 

These same friends got my IPhone back a month after it was lost during the week we arrived in Jakarta. One return is almost unheard of. Two? "It never happens. You never get your phone/s back," we were told over and over. 

But you prayed. Our friends worked hard. And we are amazed and grateful to God.

Count your blessings, see what God has done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one.
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done! 

Read more:
*Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3 ESV

*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

*You ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:15 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Spiritual Father, may we each celebrate and serve you with love and joy. Grant us wisdom to be Christ-like every moment of the day with which you have blessed us. Hear our prayer. Amen.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Everyone is somewhere

Some snapshots of our side of the world:
Traditional Sundanese garb - an angkot rider, happy to have W take his picture
Today I was struck by how many of our acquaintances don't live in their hometown. Many of us aren't even in our homeland. W lived in Germany for a year. He and I crossed the border from Canada to live in the US as university students. We returned home to pastor and study - and then shifted to Seattle in our late 20s. We stayed 29 years, putting down roots, making friends, and birthing our fourth child (a dual citizen, like his sister who took out citizenship in the US).

Cute kids hanging out beside the clotheslines and a poinsettia shrub.
In Seattle, we buy these plants in nurseries ... at Christmas
Over the years, some of our friends have stayed in the city where they were born. But we've watched people come and go across the continent or overseas, too. For many years, I sent letters, cards, magazines, and anything else I could think of that might interest them. Since we've arrived, we've had two pieces of mail (one was a credit card replacement) but hundreds of emails. We do feel connected! Well, sort of. In some ways.

17 is the legal age for driving a motorcycle. 9-12 is more likely.
How I admire early travelers in the faith who lived without connection to home. Mail boats might bring news every few months. Parents and siblings died without them knowing. Joys and tragedies happened at home and they were so far away. Out of touch. We read the stories in biographies and summary paragraphs, think, "Hmmm must have been hard," and move on to the next item on our agenda.

10 minutes from our house, a trail through a jungle valley
Even with all the connections today, we miss our parents, kids, and grandkids - and friends. We can see their faces on a Google Hangout, but we can't give a hug or put a hand on their shoulder. It's really strange being on this end of the we-miss-you!s that we said to others. We're in a big city with a roof over our heads. Many serve in deserts, jungle villages, or on the sea. I'm filled with wonder at God's choice of destination for each one.

A typical street between houses for motorcycles. Pedestrians. Bicycles. Carts. Chickens. Cats. Lizards.
Hope you enjoyed the walk through our neighborhood today. Where is Jesus sending you?

Read more:
*The Lord says, “If you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine.” Exodus 19:5 ESV

*The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. Numbers 6:25 ESV

*Does God speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Numbers 23:19 NIV

*Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them. Psalm 126:5-6 NIV

*In Jesus Christ every one of God’s promises is a “Yes.” For this reason it is through him that we say the “Amen,” to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20 ESV

*The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. John 1:9 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Dearest Jesus, thank you for allowing yourself to be the paramount manifestation of God’s love for us. 

Lord, the blessing of your love is made manifest through your Son. May his light shine through us to the rest of your world. Amen.