Monday, August 18, 2014

School begins

Saturday, August 17
We are exhausted by the whole money transfer issue and the move! We sleep in a bit – I’m in full swing by the time W stirs at 9. It’s usually I who likes to sleep longer, so we know he’s very tired.

The landlord calls to ask if he can come by. His helper brings three single beds in and he asks about a few other not-perfect items. He likes being with W, who has started to vacuum grit and bugs but sits at the table to chat.

We move a few items and clean as much as we can. Laundry, with its water changes and move of clothing from the wash to spin tub (and more rinses) takes a long time between everything else. We are DELIGHTED when our friends Augustine and Sumathi call. They’re bringing lunch, which turns out to be a superb mushroom and chicken pasta dish with fresh green salad.

The prospective maid and her younger sister have made an appointment to visit us at 3pm. The sis has worked in the neighborhood for 20 years. She stopped Friday to ask Dr. Alfred if the new owners need a maid: her older sis needs work. She mentioned a figure which would be crazy generous (and foolish of us).

Sumathi agrees to negotiate in Indonesian with the Ibu Ap and her younger sis (the current neighborhood maid), though she’s studied Bahasa only a few months. She negotiates a rate less than a third of the initial sum and everyone is happy – to our astonishment. We'll be practicing bahasa on the maid for sure. She doesn't speak English.

Waldemar and I want the house spotless before she arrives so she knows how we want it kept. Ibu Ap will work for a trial month in September. If we like each other and the work, she’ll come three times a week for 7.5 hours each time. She will cook a meal for us and be able to eat that one as well.

Augustine and Sumathi pray with us over the house and our mutual call to missions, over the neighborhood and our families. The four of us decide to take a tour with angkots, back toward the seminary so we’ll know how to get there Monday when language school starts. Sumathi asks the drivers for directions handles the fees and gets us from place to place.

Except that we get off too soon. We take 4 little buses (2 more than planned) and see a lot of neighborhoods. People live in every corner with small and big shops all around. We walk a mile or two along the busy road at a brisk pace. Up and down the pavements, dodging cars and motorcycles, people pushing carts, and pedestrians. Motorcycles and cars are not necessarily going the same way as the designated direction of traffic. Shortcuts seem fine as long as the driver is skilled at honking. We hope this first adventure together defines our friendship. It certainly made a fun memory all around.

At the bus stop before the seminary, A and S hop their final angkot while we walk another mile to Plaza Istana to see what hardware is available. On the third floor of the mal, a precocious preschooler amuses us. A little children’s train runs a circular 20’ track around a supporting beam. It screeches “Für Elisa” while the five-year-old boy treats it like a trick rodeo motorcycle. He jumps on and off. He sits and lays down in fancy positions – sideways, upside down. And he lies in wait for it and drags it to a stop on the track before springing on again. We never do see a parent minding him.

W buys a hand truck at ACE Hardware, beams, and says, “Like a boy scout, always be prepared.” He loads it with our bags of light bulbs, and cleaning supplies. We take another angkot to PVJ Mall to buy a water dispenser. On the way, two teens pop into the open door of the van as it pauses in traffic. They sing with all their might, not in tune with each other or the strumming ukulele. They’re having a whale of a time, words emerging like, “Look at us. We’re singing for you. Please Mister, we’re so hungry (cracking up)and we can sing for you and…” They make me laugh so hard that I persuade W to give them 20c (Rp2,000). We hate to encourage this kind of begging but they were good fun and I was weary enough to appreciate their efforts. They hop off and are gone in a jiffy to entertain the next gullible pair.

A taxi takes us home and the driver unloads our bags at the door. It was an eventful day. We do not have a church yet so we will have church at home tomorrow and tackle the household chores. I shriek like a girl when a lizard runs up the kitchen wall as I come around the corner, but it’s gone in a flash. A moth, ant, and termite visit us us in before we go to sleep. W kills the insects. Termite dust falls on us as we prepare for bed and say our nighttime prayers. It must be time to shut off the lights and ignore our surroundings until morning.

We sleep until 7 (me) and 8 (W) and eat the leftover pasta for breakfast. When prayers and dishes are done, we go into a cleaning frenzy to attack the kitchen and bathroom. Termites live in the rafters and wood windows all over the house. The tops of the cabinets we vacuumed and wiped yesterday? Covered in shavings and droppings.

W tackles the upper cabinets of the kitchen and starts vacuuming the lower bedrooms. I scour our master bath from the top of the tiles (7’ high) to the floor. I hold a flat scrub brush in each hand so I can work twice as fast. It still takes me three hours; the charcoal mask can barely keep up with the bleach fumes in the tile cleaner. But the tub is clean, the sink disinfected, and we could go barefoot if the rest of the floors in the house were as clean. (But that’s work for the future.)

We walk through our neighborhood for a break at 3pm. Our neighbors are pulling out of the driveway in their big van. They stop to introduce themselves. They’re at IMLAC (the neighborhood language school that wouldn’t let us in with our visa). Their three active preschool boys take the chance to escape the vehicle and explore the ditches and street. These boys don’t have the innate watchfulness of Indonesian kids: their mom keeps an eye on them as cars and motorcycles drive by.

They ask if we’re walking. Yes. So they tell us good places to eat nearby. (No offer of a ride.) W mentions we have to set up wifi to grade papers and connect with students. They remark that they have great wifi and tell us the company that does it. (No offer to use theirs, and we have to have a bank account to activate - which takes at least a week of set-up.) We smile, say thanks, and invite them over for a later date. They leave for another SE Asian country next month when their studies are done. He has a PhD in missions and will teach in a seminary.

We stroll through hilly paved alleys and wide sidewalks bordered by houses and cement walls. People sit on the sides, smile, and wave good afternoon: “Selamat soré,” as motorcycles whiz by in close quarters. After a mile or so, we come out onto the main road below the restaurant where we planned to eat lunch. We are hungry since it’s mid-afternoon and we missed lunch.

We keep going down the hill. The food court on the top floor of the grocery store is across from a university. We order noodle soup (with dumplings for me; beef meatballs for W) from a young gal behind the counter. She knows her stuff: it is simply delicious. Students are hanging out in the food court so we’ll go back to meet them.

Today, an American and Indonesian couple come by to say hello. We invite them to sit down but they can’t stay long because the wife gets a call that their appointment is waiting. They live 3 hours away, where he has a big factory. They’re in town a few times a month for special needs education for their teen son. We tell them they’re welcome to come by for tea whenever they can make it work. They exchange contact information and off they go. We flag down an angkot to PVJ Mall. We’re tired from the physical exertion and head home early on the bus. We explore another part of the neighborhood on the way.

Language school begins. We had a lousy sleep. Between wondering what (besides us) was in the bed and pre-class nerves, we sleep fitfully. The neighborhood security guard paces the streets and knocks on various metal gates to assure his paying customers that he’s making the rounds. I hear him at 3am. W says he bangs around on every hourly lap.

We walk to the main road, a brisk mile away. It’s ideal traffic, only 45 minutes with 2 angkots. We are early enough that we decided a walk would wake us up, so we skip the third van to walk along stop-and-go vehicles for a mile or so. (Oh the pollution!) With other pedestrians, we take our lives into our hands, crossing 6 lanes of traffic.

The language course is intense. We get a badly-needed half-hour break in the middle of the morning. Sumathi scoots to their apartment next door to cook. (Augustine teaches at the seminary so they live in the housing.) It’s Augustine’s birthday and he has no idea of the surprise meal. After class, S finishes cooking and A comes home about 1. We sing Happy Birthday as he walks in the door, astonished.

The food is fantastic: fish in curry coconut sauce, Indian-spiced chicken, and cashew-flavored rice. We pray over Augustine’s day and year, and are off again. We walk a mile or two to make a brief stop at the ACE Hardware. W is looking for a toilet flapper and a few other items. I buy hooks, kitchen drawer dividers, and a few utensils.

My head is buzzing on the angkot home when I look at the vocabulary I’ve written in class. We’re on the wrong bus and to add insult to injury, the driver overcharges us (after giving us false information). So we catch a taxi the rest of the way @$2.25. Big deal. We check the routes that run past our place and will do better tomorrow.

The landlord is waiting for us at 4 when we get home. He’s brought 40 or 50 guppies for the basin in the backyard. Tropical aquarium guppies live outdoors here and keep the mosquitoes out of the little pond. They swim around and around the bare concrete. (Now to find water plants for the pond.) He introduces us to his outdoor handyman who cleans the roof, prunes the trees, and sweeps the yard. He is the security guy 2 houses away. We ask him to continue at the present rate, twice a month.

W shows the landlord that our water heaters in the shower don’t work, points out the termite dropping on the DR table and elsewhere, and notes that several faucets need work. His handyman and driver will be back tomorrow to take care of things. Hurrah! We tell Dr A we hope he will be dropping by soon for good news, rather than always hearing what’s still to do.

We move a bit of the furniture today. Slowly (oh so slowly) the house is changing from uninhabited into a home. The termites still send hundreds of black pebbles down on the table, the showers are working, and we have to review our language. It’s 8:30 pm. Laundry is underway. We’re tired. But the shower is hot.

It’s been a great day. And the week has just begun. God is good. We pray for the people we are called to serve before we sleep. We’ll be up at 5:45 again in the morning.

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