With the help of another little blue pill, I wake only twice in the night, and rest from 8pm to 5.30am. Catching up on email takes over an hour, and then I call W on my computer line. When I’m done, I eat muesli made of raw oats, mango, orange, banana, and peanuts, blended with soy milk. It is an amazing combination: fresh, light, and filling.
"Were you lonely? Was it too quiet? Are you ok in the building by yourself?" my hostess is concerned. Malaysians have a reputation of warm hospitality, and they prove themselves throughout the day. I tell her I'm fine - after raising four lively children, a stay with utter quiet and solitude is a blessing, not something to fear.
Class starts at 9am with about 30 students. The trip to my classroom is the shortest commute ever… a few steps across the hall. With two short breaks between three sessions, the morning ends at 1. We walk across the street to a Malaysian restaurant: Nyonya Village. The Nasi Lemak and other dishes are wonderful – chili noodles, coconut rice, Beef Redang, crispy fried chicken, fried spinach (-type), and pickled turnips. The mom, two young men and I polish it off with a sweet dessert of diced yams boiled in young coconut milk. Splendid!
The class is droopy after lunch, but small group interaction perks them back up for the marathon session until 6pm. We have two more small (10 and 15 minute) breaks, but it is a long go. I wouldn’t want to hear the rambling of the middle session again! The students tell stories of how they practice spiritual disciplines, and I learn a lot.
I don’t know what the class is expecting. The direction I got to develop the course was “History of Spiritual Formation. The disciplines.” So I have taken a quick trip through church history and highlighted the various disciplines practiced by those earlier believers. We pray four Celtic prayers together to start the afternoon, and end the class day standing and reciting the Orthodox liturgy for Saturday, April 25. The class is tired but enthusiastic.
Supper is a 10-minute drive to a Chinese Pork Soup restaurant with Kay and her husband. They tell the waiter not to include pork hocks, but it wouldn’t have bothered me: Germans eat pickled pork feet and use pork hocks with sauerkraut (and other dishes.) Kay wipes down every dish and our chopsticks with a tissue, supplied in the center of the table. We soak tiny pieces of spicy hot peppers in a little bowl of soy sauce, upon which we also lean our chopsticks and soup spoons. In addition, we are given a bowl of rice and a separate soup bowl. We put the salty green and red peppers on the rice and pork to add flavor. We toss the bones on the table near our dishes.
The fans all along the walls keep the air in motion and cool us in the 31oC (92oF?) evening. It is very pleasant during this dry season, absolutely wonderful and warm.
“Chinese believe in heaty and cool foods. We balance the yin and yang by combining foods. So because it is a hot day, such a cooling soup (the steaming pork broth) is good for taking heat from the body.” We drink sweetened iced chrysanthemum tea, good to cool the fried vegetables and stave off the heat. Blanched greens topped with soy sauce, fried and chopped flour pastries, and fried bean curd top the rice and pork. Anything we can fit into the soup spoon is wetted with broth. Deeeelicious. The server burps loudly behind me as he prepares to take away our dishes.
We sit and chat in a leisurely way, and the couple offers to take me shopping or to visit anything I want to see. It is already 8pm (5am Seattle time) and I feel like I am fading. So they drop me at the door and wait for me to unlock and relock the front door of the complex before I start up the stairs to the third floor. We’ve been taking the six flights of stairs (lots of room between floors) to work off some of the good food. At the top, I unlock and relock the conference room, walk through to my hallway, unlock and relock my apartment door, and prep for bed.