Sunday, September 21, 2014

Don't look my way

Grateful for dear friends here and there!
Dr. Joseph Castleberry speaking in Jakarta
Sunday, September 21

My heart is full as the new week starts. As usual, we've had a great weekend at IES Jakarta. We've traveled back every second weekend since our move to Bandung. It means 2 hours in traffic plus a 3 hour train ride each way.

We always return home refreshed and encouraged by Pastor Dave (nicknamed PD), Gigi, and the IES team. They have supported and helped us beyond all expectations. Thanks, everyone! We're so glad to partner with what God is doing through you.

Thursday when W and I get to town, we settle into the flat and rest up. Friday morning, we walk down the street to the Rempoa Outlet store. W finds Royal Robbins travel shirts for $8 (retail $80 in Seattle). I find some blouses. Oh hurrah... finally, a change of clothing!!! It feels wonderful to put on a different blouse in the morning. In the afternoon, I pop into H&M, a British-based retailer and find lightweight rayon trousers for $13, a God-given sweet bonus. Though I'm not a clothes horse, I was getting sick and tired of wearing the same clothes for 3 months.

We catch a ride to church with PD. President Joseph Castleberry of Northwest U in Seattle has arrived in Jakarta for the weekend. W and I participate in the university info event in the afternoon, encouraging parents to consider Christian higher education for their children. Later that evening, Joe preaches a wonderful message that synchs with the series of the previous weeks.

Joe is a friend as well as having been our boss. Seeing a familiar face in this context is surreal - our two worlds collide. I especially miss seeing his wife Kathleen but SO much appreciate the Trader Joes chocolates and chocolate chips she sent along!

Beautiful fresh veges - with a kick
W's stomach heaves from eating fresh veges at a Vietnamese restaurant. He misses the service before his system settles down with a generous dose of the charcoal pills we carry with us. I'm fine; I stick to cooked vegetables and enjoy my noodle soup.

We leave the cake from Bandung on the office table for staff dinner. We can't stay. Bramonos take us to the mall to transfer our phones from their names to ours. Earlier this summer, before our visas and bank accounts came through, they graciously put our phone cards on their account. However, we need our names on the contract to pay online. (After running around all week without being about to recharge our data in Bandung, W's put this at the top of his Jakarta-chores list.) It takes the Telcomsel assistant until 9pm (store closing) to complete the transaction. Meanwhile I run downstairs to buy more of the same rayon trousers from H&M.

Our late supper is worth the wait. W has butter chicken, while I enjoy a Malay chicken curry with roti (our go-to breakfast when we teach in Singapore). B's find their favorites in the traditional-food court as well.

W snaps pictures of the scenes outside the train
Sunday morning, we catch a ride downtown with Gigi, who is headed for church. We hop a cab from Dr. C's hotel (next to the skyscraper where the church holds its services) to the station and board the 10:15am train.

At the station, we experience the curious dynamic that we've noted in malls, on the street, and in other public context in Asia. Expats walking past each other don't look each other in the eye. We ignore each other.

Why? It's strange to see someone so out-of-context (=someone who looks like us rather than like local Indonesians, Singaporeans, Chinese, etc.) Foreigners grow accustomed to being stared at by the locals but when we meet, it somehow feels awkward. We often pretend we haven't seen each other.

One day when we were riding the bus in Jakarta, another European couple boarded. "Hey, get off our bus," W whispered to me with a laugh. I knew just what he meant. We're considered out of place ourselves; seeing more of "our people" multiplies the weirdness.

We're still not immune to this beauty: rice fields
We approach the young Dutch couple sitting a few seats ahead of us on the train. They tell us they're in Bandung overnight before heading to Jogja and Surabaya. We give them our contact info: if something unforeseen happens, our friends in both places would be happy to help them. Once outside the station, we flag down an angkot mini-van to take them to their hotel. Off they go! Godspeed, you two.

The angkot driver who picks us up knows the complex where we live. There's hardly anyone on the street. Apparently he and the passenger in the front seat are friends. They buy a cigarette each from vendors walking between the cars. Before lighting up, they ask our permission.

Then they ask if we want a ride all the way home. We say, "Sure!" There are no other passengers so they detour off the main route to wind through the neighborhood. They drive us to our house! The driver asks for $4 and cheerfully accepts the $2 W counter-offers. (W finds that drivers often ask him for double their actual fee.) Cool. We've never been driven to the door before by a bus driver. It's just as good as a taxi, at a fraction of the cost. We schlep the carry-ons inside and unpack.

An ugly surprise on top of the bookshelf:
3 days of termites at work
We love this house. Walking in the door means coming home. Sadly, wood and termite debris is scattered over the living room: the beams are rotting away. It better get fixed before it falls down. We send pictures to the landlord but don't hear back.

For our late lunch-supper, we walk down the hill, through the neighborhood alleys. We discover a new food court behind the Catholic University. The food is good. And cheap. W's schnitzel ("chicken steak") costs $2 and my noodles are a few cents less.

Some female students leave the tables at the same time. They shriek and don't know what to do: 2 mid-sized dogs are walking in the alley. Many cousins are afraid of dogs (classified as unclean). I motion to the girls to come with us, pointing at the dogs and saying a stern "NO!" as we walk by. The girls are very happy! to escape the potential fierceness of these friendly unknowns, who wag their tails as they stroll by. The girls kindly point us through a warren of options toward the main street. We'll return to that food court another day. The gals say the food is good and lots of students eat there.

An old man stops us to ask us where we're from. He understands some English, acquired 20 years ago for business. He bemoans his need for a cane and we talk about where we're from, etc. Like nearly everyone else we've met in Bandung, he offers a warm welcome to his city.

W needs to get a key cut for Bu A's husband. Mr A plans to repair our termite-eaten windows and back door this week. A heap of wood moulding lies on our porch, ready to go. The key shop is closed, but we stop by the market for a brush and some facecloths. We walk back to the house and relax.

Oh dear. My Mac computer mousepad has been crushed and cracked in W's bag. Luckily it still works. We catch up on writing and email until 9:30pm.

Music from IES Jakarta streams through the house this evening as we wind down. (To listen, click here.) It's been a lovely weekend. But I'm not sure that I'm ready for another challenging week of language school.

God is enough, right?

Read more:
*Happy are the people whose God is the Lord. Psalm 144:15 ESV

*For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. Philippians 1:21 ESV

*You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God. Ephesians 2:19 ESV

Moravian Prayer: The promise of life with you, dear Lord, fills us with joy! This joy comes from the simple fact that we have union with you, no matter where we are in our lives. Thank you. Amen.

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