Thursday, July 11, 2013

Singapore Days 19-20: Loving it! Singapore to Malaysia

Google Hangout with family
We take the kids across the border to JB, Malaysia, on the weekend and talk to family on Google Hangouts today. (They're 15 hrs. behind so it was last evening in Seattle and morning here.)

I'm tired when I finish teaching and grading each day. My course (Research Methods and Writing) requires a lot of assignments, which I try to get back by the next morning. Someone gives me a ride back to the flat after I clean up and prep for class in my office. Then, while W and the kids are downtown and away from the flat, I study, grade, and rest. Sometimes we head out for supper; other times, the others have eaten and I make ramen for myself. (No condolences needed: I love the S'pore varieties of ramen and they're easy to cook.)

JB: a mix of old and new
Kirsten finds a good rheumatologist Friday and is encouraged by the office visit. Jeremy and Rebekah have strolled through various parts of the island, with and without the others. We spend Saturday browsing Chinatown and local shops.

Sunday, we head through the Singaporean and Malaysian customs and into JB. One of my students pastors a church in JB, but we don't have phone service to connect with him once we crossed the border. Sadly, we miss the service and his offer of tourist guide and van.

W and I have a regular circuit in JB. We're usually on the run, but the kids are less nimble so we take taxis instead of busses, and plan an overnight stay. For lunch, we eat at our favorite Australian hot-stone restaurant: flat lava is super-heated, food arrives raw, and we cook our own meal. Yummy. Everyone loves it: lamb, steak, chicken, fish ... and fantastic mashed potatoes with black pepper sauce.

On a previous visit (2010), W took Kirsten and Jonathan to a seafood restaurant outside the city. This time, we cram into a small car (all five of us! plus the driver). I kneel sideways on the floor between W, K, and Jer. Ouch for 20 minutes. 

However, our taxi driver waves us off our destination. "Not there. Not that one. I take you to much better place. Near. Is near same. This Restoran Todak much more food for local and Singapore-people." Singaporeans are notoriously picky about their food: my students know exactly where they like to eat local specialties. So we figure we'll follow the taxi driver's advice to a place Singaporeans frequented. 

The place is crammed. A server finds us a table: "Outside, yes?" -- on the deck overlooking the water and the opposite shoreline. We ask those around us what we should order. "Steam fish," they say. We liked that, but the pepper crab, mayonnaise prawns, and Chinese greens were amazing. We eat family style but can't finish.

Kirsten and I overlooking the water
Between cracking open crab legs and slurping sauces, we need to wash our hands a few times. The sinks, fastened to the bayside railings, drain right soapy rinse-water into the ocean below. The pink lights warm the faces of hundreds of diners.

Little kids climb on the railings: no one falls over or into the sea. They run back to their parents, among other tables, wash their hands, and stare at the big, light-skinned foreigners. There's an assumption of responsibility and self-awareness here = if you do something stupid and get hurt, it's your fault. But parents don't fret over every little thing about their kids, either.

Sink draining into the ocean
Monday, after a nice stay at the Citrus Hotel, we head to a mall for some last-minute shopping. I try to find a few Indonesian movies. The shop-keeper takes ages running them for English subtitles. We use up our time waiting. Time runs out, which is really disappointing. (I have to teach, so we can't stay late. We miss our second visit to places we'd seen yesterday.)

We've planned to meet at the bridge to immigration, but it's hard to find. When Jer and Reb find K and me, W's gone across to see if they're already on the other side of the street. I lean over the railing beside the bridge, three storeys above eight lanes of traffic, and whistle.

I don't think my whistle was that loud. I didn't put much force into it. But the two teens smoking beside me open their eyes in shock and a few passersby stand still for a second. W comes walking back out from the heart of the immigration building ... because he hears the whistle. Oops! Guess it is louder than I thought, echoing across the street and into the big building.

View from our JB hotel
We take three buses home and are back by 7pm. I review my study material, grade the papers that came in over the weekend, and watch a movie with the family.

Wednesday, W and I have supper with Shane, administrator and trainer for a network of 6000 community and house churches. He gives us great ideas of what's working for church-planters in Berlin, Uganda, and East Timor. Missions may not look like what we thought. We're open. We're interested. And we're going. Only God knows what the church plant will look like, but we're making connections that will help us do God's work. We need to ask and trust that spiritual doors will open and people will find Him.

The college administrator picks me up at 7:50 each morning. There's a speaker and worship leader from 8-8:30 before classes start. I give the school devotional Thursday (today) on Luke 11-12: staying on task of reaching the world without hypocrisy or trying to be someone we're not. We're wrapping up class time today: students will meet in groups tomorrow and do their research.

Timothy and Melissa call us via Google Hangout. It's such fun to watch 2-year-old Kinsey squirming and shouting, "Oma! Opa!" She flops on the carpet beside her dad to wave, look at our pictures, and call to us. We'll be doing this often when we move to this part of the world next year.

Tonight, W and I fly to Indonesia to explore the city we'll teach and live in. Can't wait to see the family who stayed with us in Seattle. Both girls have married and one is expecting. Very exciting! Our family continues to grow.

Read more:
*Later, the LORD sent this message to King Ahaz: "Ask the LORD your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want—as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead."

But the king refused. "No," he said, "I will not test the LORD like that."

Then Isaiah said, "Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn't it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well? All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign." Isaiah 7:10–14a NLT

*From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work. Psalm 104:13 NLT

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

Moravian Prayer: Most Gracious God, help us each day to remember the gift you have given us. Rain or shine, in times of sadness or joy, let us thank you for the greatest gift of all – your Son, Jesus and his love for us. Amen.

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