Friday, July 25, 2014

Missions meet and retreat

The muezzin is chanting prayers through the loudspeakers on the mosque's towers. Five times a day, the call to ritual prayers echo off buildings and hillsides. Some chanters are better than others and just when I think they're through, they start up again. So far, it's been over a half hour. (How different would Western nations be if we had been called to pray that often?)

Mosque in Lombok
"What you have to understand about Indonesia is that it's all about religion. At its core sits religion. At the heat of tradition and culture? Religion." So says an expat who's been working here for years.

We've had several wonderful days at the mission retreat. The island itself is lovely, though locals take the beauty for granted, like everywhere else. Yesterday, someone negotiated a good rate for a group of 27 to take a boat to the reef for snorkeling. (I was thinking aquariums might classified as cruelty to animals as see the waves sweep through the corals and the fish darting in and out. I've killed my share of marine life back in Seattle.) GORGEOUS zooanthids and sea anemones bloom under us as we paddle by. Fishes we see only in aquariums swim under our feet.

Our return trip is bumpy. We're between two islands when the wind whips up and it takes us nearly a half-hour to get to the shore. The waves are high and the old wooden boat leaps and plunges through them. Some of us get soaked and everyone is damp.  The boat with its crew of  heads back immediately and we are left on the shore without transport. One of our gals speaks with fellows in a little shop. Apparently the vans are on the way. Sure enough, they soon appear and drive us 20 minutes along the coastline, back to the hotel by 1:30pm so parents can pick up their kids from children's activities. The second contingent arrives in the late afternoon.

I take a quick swim before we eat supper by the pool. It takes an hour from the time we sit down to when we get our food. Four tables of guests are equally late to our meeting. "We're on island time, so don't worry," says one missionary. And sure enough, service starts an hour late.

Coworkers from the NWMN
The worship and talks have been excellent. I am so aware of the prayers supporting us at home: God's presence is very near. We begin with songs and prayers, watch a short missions video on ministry issues, and hear from a speaker. Then it's snack and chat time before bed.

This morning we took pictures of the entire Indonesian group. The NWMN people stayed behind for a group shot: there are 14 of us (one absent from photos). The country is SO big. Only China, India, and the USA have more people.

Top 4 countries: world population
It's hard to imagine this handful of people having an impact, but various ones tell us how God is reaching out through us. Without the home churches and friends, none of us could be here or do what we do.

We fly home in early afternoon after a 1-hr. taxi ride from the Sengigi hotel to the airport. It's an uneventful (if late-starting) flight. Below us, the islands carve the ocean boundaries. A huge yacht churns a temporary white swath across the blue sea between tankers and freighters in port. The anchored ships line up in parallel formation, bow to stern swept in the same direction by the currents and winds.

Near Bandung, the clouds pile up. It may be raining in the city, which is known for precipitation and a moderate climate. So far we love the weather in Indonesia, where theoretically it's dry season. Residents of Jakarta and elsewhere tell us nothing is predictable; the weather patterns are constantly shifting. It's rained many days since we arrived.

A rainbow arches over the countryside near Bandung. I usually have a middle or aisle seat, and so being able to look out reminds me that God is overseeing our journey. He knows every step of the way and every part of what lies ahead.

Indonesian rainbox
Our evening is relaxing. We unpack again. We set the flat in order. We catch up (W with students, I online) and then fall asleep.

W finds some household outlet stores, so that's built into the agenda for exploring Jakarta today. The malls are modern, with a few surprises, like the Boeing store with the front of a jetliner protruding. People pose for pictures as we did the first time we walked by.

W at the Boeing store
Every day brings some new thing our way. A few practical things we learn this week:

  • Yellow rice is an appropriate gift to take when knocking on a neighbor's door for the first time. 
  • Our eyes have adjusted again to "driving on the left side."
  • We might need changes of clothes multiple times a day, depending on an office climate (air conditioning - take a scarf or sweater), an outside walk (dress lightly - natural fibers, no synthetics), and "normal" wear (natural fibers, lightweight clothes, be prepared for cold taxis, hot transitions, and everything between). 
  • Water hardness and quality has as much to do with hair texture and cooperation as do cleansing products.
  • We are the most privileged of people. Many have not yet heard Good News and many live in dire poverty. We don't take for granted our good health or staying in a clean hotel with likeminded God-fearers. We feel God's presence and care all around us.
Read more:
*Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. "Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:6-9 NIV

*It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice. Psalm 112:5 ESV

*Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Proverbs 24:11-12 NIV

*Jesus said, “Just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” Matthew 25:45 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Lord, today let us remember those who may be hurt by our actions or our inactions. Let us be conscious of all our decisions and the unseen effects on our brothers and sisters. Help us to be aware and awake. Amen.

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