Monday, September 29, 2014

Circumcision and walking through the jungle

With the proud parents
Sunday, September 28

We're invited to a circumcision party, along with 700 other guests and neighbors. We are - needless to say - the only fair-haired people in attendance.

We attend a small Christian Alliance gathering in the morning. The service ends with the baptism of a young woman in a pool the size of a hot tub. She and the pastor shiver as they climb into the tank: it's in the shade, though it's a warm day as usual.

In front of us sit two young couples who are studying at IMLAC (the school we were supposed to attend). One pair lives directly across the lane from our house. The other lives two houses further away. They're Americans with young families and neither seems particularly interested in more than a perfunctory hello. We walk home without meeting anyone else.

Where the action happens: women cooking
The all-out Muslim celebration at noon is many blocks down the back side of the hill we live on. It's held in the home where our helper was born and raised her own children. Three families live in her small home. Her sister lives next door - and everyone knows each other up and down the street. We feel honored to be included. They fuss over us because we showed up - and probably because we don't know what's expected of us. Visitors sit, stand, flow in and out of the house, eating, greeting, talking.

The women cooked all day Saturday. While we're there on Sunday, they keep gathering and washing plates as people finish eating. The serving bowls are refilled as soon as guests empty them of fresh chopped vegetables, saté, broccoli and mushrooms, and other dishes, accompanied by rice. Delicious! W's stomach gets upset later in the afternoon but I'm fine.

The live band stations itself at the side of the alley, blaring at full blast. "To let the neighbors know there's a party," W muses. We lose some hearing - one of my earplugs falls on the floor and I can't find it to pick it up from the floor until I'm done eating - and dancing!

Bu A, her husband and their grandson
Bu A grabs my hand and pulls me on the stage, a little area beside the path and between the houses. She says I'm supposed to dance with her. Eeek. I can't dance Western-style, never mind doing Sundanese folk dancing! Awkward. I wave my arms around and move my hips. Her little grandson is a doll. He peeks at me and smiles from the time we first wave at each other until we leave.

Bu A probably hoped this bulé (Western foreigner) could raise some money as she did - putting out her hands for the bills thrust into them for her nephew. I don't even notice the money part until I've made it off-stage. Oops, too late.

The family asks to take pictures with us. We are immortalized in snapshots with boy+parents, grandparents+children, helper+assorted others... under a canopy strung around the room. The plan walls are wrapped with vari-colored fabric to make them festive. The family wears bright sparkly costumes to mark this occasion. We leave them a donation and card with Ps. 20:4 in it. (In the Indonesian Bible, it's Ps. 20:5. The verses of the Psalms are offset just as those in the Luther Bible we grew up with.)

Bu A and her husband take us into their house and offer purchased snacks. We're full enough to have an excuse to refuse politely. We ask questions about the family history and wish Ibu A a happy birthday. Yes, today is also her birthday. (I have a nice scarf at home, to give her Tuesday - when she comes - as a belated gift with a card.)

Delicious home-cooked food - for 700 guests
After an hour, we leave and the party goes on without us. We head down and away from our neighborhood, avoiding the occasional lizard who scurries across the path. The path down the hill winds through the jungle. It's well-traveled. Very thin, wiry and fit men haul water, rice, and other things up to the neighborhood on the slick gravel and mud. The waterfall for the local electric plant culminates at the base of the adjoining hills. It's a beautiful valley and we could imagine that we're far away if it wasn't for the city noises echoing off the slopes. After we've gone down, we have to climb up the other side to Dago, the next hill over.

Kids are flying kites on the hilltop. Motorcycles race out of the little lanes between houses on both sides of the path. And three boys pose for W to take a picture of them jumping into the canal beside the street. A few feet away, a long line of men hold fishing rods. One shows me his 7" fish, dropped in a net under the waterline. Part of the canal has fishing line strung 4' apart, from bank to bank. Each man is permitted to swish his line back and forth within his numbered spot.

Boys jumping into the canal:
10' away from 20-30 fishermen
We walk downhill for a few miles, passing some of the outlet stores that Bandung is famous for. I stop into one or two while W waits outside. I find some shoes (about time! - mine are worn out) and pick up a few things for our grandkids.

We're tired and crabby when night falls at 6. By the time we finish our errands, W is hungry and ready for supper at Miss Bee's. We arrive about 8:30pm. I can't find a thing on the menu: I'm craving ramen at home. But it's 9:30 when we get home and all I want to do is sleep ... after we finish our homework. It's lights out at 11pm.


Typical morning - except that I'm wide awake at 4pm, wondering if something just fell on my face. Maybe. Maybe not. There are termite "crumbs" in the bed, which I swish off the sheets and onto the floor. W plans to pick up a mosquito net to ward off the bigger pieces. I can't get back to sleep though I'm really tired. I listen to the whole book of Revelation and then give up and get out of bed. (We fall asleep to scriptures read aloud each night.)

Goats tied to fences all around town
We walk to the angkot past a new little bamboo fence at the intersection. What's it for? I wonder. We don't know until afterwards. First, we catch the little bus to Pasteur Rd, then walk our 2-3 km. to school. Up 37 stairs and across the concrete walkway above the busy street. Then 37 steps down and a brisk walk to the school driveway. The parking lot looks pretty empty today. After the big open house hosted by the elementary and high schools last weekend, maybe the kids have the day off. 

W occasionally take the lift at the seminary if he's heavily laden, but usually we climb 3 flights of 20+ steps from ground floor to #3. Lantai - or floors - are labeled with Ground, then floor 1, then 2 (which we'd call #1, 2, 3, etc.) So going to Floor 3 means three full flights of steps. It's good for us. I breathe in on the landings and out on the steps as though I'm pacing breaths for lifting weights. 

Language class makes more sense today. At least, I feel I can follow along more intelligently. W always tries complex structures in our writing exercises, but I'm happy with a noun, verb, object - and perhaps a descriptor or modifier here and there. I'm relieved when I get something right and know I understand. (What would we do without Google Translate to help us with the new vocabulary in every paragraph?)

Narrowest house ever, on our Sunday walk
We have a TV coming soon. That will help us acquire the language more quickly. At this point, not that many people can engage us in complicated conversations. We have to stick to the basic questions -where we're going, what we're doing, if we like Bandung, our age!, where we lived before and live now, how long we've (or they've) lived in Bandung, and if we have children. We're looking forward to watching news reports and Indonesian family dramas on the tube.

After class, W and I look for a present for Bu A's birthday - but no luck. So, a scarf it is! Her husband's working on the window when we get home. Friday, he nailed a board over the open space where the windows had been removed. He's come back today to continue working on it. 

At the bamboo fence build overnight, someone has tied a few goats. People stop their motorcycles and pause to feed and pet the goats. Some kind of festival is coming. The goats don't know what they're in for. But neither do we.

The cutlery drawer - before vacuuming
While W heads back downtown to run a few more errands. He is sent across town to three shops for mosquito netting - with no luck. Back home, I step on a few ants, squish others in my fingers (the ones on the kitchen counter while I wash dishes), and vacuum out the drawers and floors. There's a pile of termite granules in the cutlery drawer, on and around the plastic I keep to cover the knife and fork organizer. 

Our landlord insisted Saturday that he's taken care of our bugs. W was gone and Dr A refused to look at the drawers full of bug stuff. When I pointed out the poop beside him when he sat down at the DR table, he said, "That's dirt." Excuse me! I told W I'm not talking to the landlord about this any more. But I do need sleep - so we may have to pay an exterminator ourselves. The first quote is $1000 - to take up the roof tiles, crawl into the attic, spray the ground, and bore holes in the floor tiles to place poison under the house. Not exactly healthy, but probably effective. We'll try to be away when they do it.

The dining room window (eaten away)
and the handyman hard at work
We ask our Indonesian friends about our options with the landlord. (We can't move out: we've paid a year's on a two-year lease; it's doubtful that we could get our money back.) They point us to the seminary's go-to gal, who can probably talk to him and mention potential legal action. I'm considering having the neighborhood women put pressure on him as well: they are already afraid a few sprays with a general pesticide will send the termites fleeing - to their homes. (Termites travel up to 100 yards, looking for welcome spaces like they found in the empty house before we got here.)

W is fast asleep by 9pm. He's walked 19km (12 miles) again, while I'm at 5-something km (3+ miles). Have a great day - and pray that we have a good night. Thanks!

Read more:
*I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous. Joshua 1:9 ESV

*I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him. 2 Timothy 1:12 ESV

Moravian Prayer: God, we ask for your presence in our lives. When we don’t receive it in the ways we feel that we should, we sometimes have anger or lose faith. We humbly ask that you would open our eyes to the many different ways you live within and are present with us. Amen.

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