Friday, August 8, 2014

Checking off the list

A hair color shop offers a brown dye for "shinning back"
Tuesday, August 5

We leave in the morning at 8 for the visa office. The pastor of a local church is helping the process: he stands in the right lines, then has us show up for signatures, fingerprints, and photos. We get another perspective on Jakarta work: the pastor says getting to work takes him 2 hours by car and 1-1.5 hours by motorcycle. When we’re done, he sends a man on a motorcycle down the block to the main street to flag down a taxi. They put us in and we head over to the church for staff meeting.

Never in our most creative prayers did we think God would provide such helpers – the church has been taking care of us detail by detail, just like this time.

The staff is finishing devotions when we arrive. My faux pas: there’s a dish of cake beside my elbow and a few little plates, so I assume everyone has passed it along and snacked. So I pass it to W. The gal beside me cheerfully gives us plates and forks and we eat. A few minutes later, the helper brings ceramic plates and real forks and the staff eats their snack. Oh oh.

The bride-to-be on staff is excited about her wedding next week. She gives us an invitation – a contemporary graphic design – and we hope we can attend. It’s the day of language school registration, but we haven’t heard back from the school whether we’re accepted. (Getting confirmation is another thing for our to-do list.)

The stunning view from the IES conference room window:
skyscrapers, brick beginnings, and cranes on the horizon
After staff meeting, we talk about customs unfamiliar to the States. One surprise is love offerings, a “transportation” stipend that each volunteer gets for helping on a weekend. Depending on the church, job, and skill level, their envelope – for which they give their signature – contains $5-45/service. It's essential for those who get bus fare or lose pay because they leave work early to volunteer. “You couldn’t get helpers without it,” says one pastor.

The IES church mandates that everyone must take and sign for their envelope so that there is no difference made between rich and poor in the taking. Those who don’t need the money often hand it back in the offering.

We learn about the key role of an Indonesian administrator in a church plant. S/he makes sure things are in place: communion, correspondence, the sound system (often rented), the room setup, and that offering is collected and counted. The administrator withdraws the estimated amount for the love offering from the bank on Friday, puts it in white envelopes printed with volunteers' names, and makes sure the volunteers are on the sign-in sheet. If s/he runs short of money on Sunday, it comes from her/his pocket until they can withdraw more. Overage gets deposited back into the bank. Then a report is completed in time for the Tuesday’s staff meeting.

Lew offers us this wisdom about pastoring a church plant: “I never worry about things I’m not called to do.” His church plant (a branch of IES) has no teen service and he does not manage the worship or children’s teams. He trusts them to do their work well within their giftings.

Another pastor mentions the generosity of Indonesians. “The appeals for contributions toward medical help, disaster relief, etc. bring an immediate response.” In the last month, we’ve seen first-hand how IES and its branch churches have helped fund help in a slum that burned out, paid toward bills of a family whose father was in hospital, and met other needs.

I’m wondering where the nearest Diaso ($2 Japan store) is. W finds one online a mile or two away from IES so we walk down the main street and turn right, walking a few more blocks. It’s our smoothest sidewalk yet, a few blocks of even pavement after traversing a few side streets and climbing stairs to the main road. Everyone we ask at church hasn’t heard of this Daiso. But there it is.

It’s suppertime so we look for a non-smoking restaurant section. At Pho24, we eat our first disappointing meal in Indonesia. The listless broth, warmed over noodles, and bland spring rolls fill our stomachs without inspiring our palates. Not even Bango (thick soy) or spicy peppers can boost the taste. W also orders fried squid. I don’t like squid so I am merely an observer when it arrives. It looks mostly like fried bread. W insists it’s not bread… until he tastes it. Yup. Greased bread. The servers want to hand me the bill sometimes but I’m always happy to send it across the table to W, our banker.

Fried bread - and squid
At 5, we catch a Blue Bird taxi home. The traffic director is someone who steps off the curb into traffic, flags them to a pause so we can back out, and takes a 10-50c tip from the driver whose window is rolled down and ready. There’s no apparent authority or uniform for such traffic assistance; someone puts their life on the line by stepping into traffic. It's all very ordinary to locals.

We’re home early and watch a DVD series from church for a few hours. The next five groups, the church life-groups will use these teachings. We're attending leadership training (Fri-Sat this week) with the entire staff, so need to have watched all five by Friday.


I order our dishes from the factory store. Another checkmark in my book of to-do lists. We enjoy a stay-in laundry-online-chore day with no trips out. Anywhere. Wow.


We catch a ride in to church in the morning. Lew calls the IMLAC language office to see if we can start next week. We don’t have a reply before the weekend. From Springfield, where she’s attending the 100th AG Anniversary celebrations, Livia communicates with the realtor. Apparently he received the deposit and the owner is repainting the house; they will get back to us next week.

Mario offers to give us a ride home. It takes 2 hours to drop off Daniela, who is tutoring, pick up a music team volunteer, and get to a delicious mid-afternoon lunch at Sam’s Strawberry. W and I order the same thing: chicken with noodles. The broth comes on the side; the noodles are in a separate bowl. The eater customizes their soup by scooping an amount of broth into the noodle bowl.

We’re fairly close to our flat, but we head to the local outlet store first. Mario and Eva (?) drop us off, M finds a $3 Old Navy golf shirt, and they head out to rehearsal. My first Indonesian clothing purchase is a $9 blouse labeled My Big Size: XL. Having lost at least 5 pounds since we arrived, I’m not too bothered. (It makes me laugh: what would the median size of Americans be? XXXL maybe?)

By 6:30pm, our taxi drops us home. After an hour or two, I pull a package of breaded chicken out of the freezer and fry it – irregular-sized pieces, delicious, and we feel full. We stay up to watch TV, answer emails, and relax, finally heading for bed at 1am.


After making rice for breakfast, I nap solidly from 10-2! Then it's fun to catch up on FB with friends as they attend the organization's 100th Anniversary in Springfield, MO. It looks like everyone is having a great time, meeting with friends, worshipping, and eating at our favorite haunts.

We take a taxi to church about 3. The driver is amazing: we’re there for 2/3 the regular fee, in half the usual time. W heads straight back out on the bus: he wants to test the headphones at a local shop. I chat with various staff members who drop by and watch two boys play with Legos. One makes peaceful vehicles - very creative - and when the second comes, they invent games. War games, of course. 

By 5, W pokes his head back in. Tonight and tomorrow we'll attend small group training for a series called Reasons for Belief. But first, we're celebrating Gigi's birthday with a dinner she caters for the music team and friends. Her husband has ordered a 2'X2' chocolate cake decorated with a center heart filled with strawberries. Micha, head of IES worship, has also brought a multi-layer buttercream torte. Oh yum. No calorie saves today!

Trainers demonstrating the power of visual patterning
The two trainers are good communicators. From 7-9, we hear a presentation on talking to others about faith. Gigi has sent her cake downstairs; attendees crowd around the tables for a sweet bite before going home. By the time everything is wrapped up, we catch a ride home and are in the door about 10:30pm.

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