Thursday, September 18, 2014

On our feet (most of the time)

Good homemade Korean food!
Thursday, September 18
After my third fall, these comfy shoes are history. The first time, I slipped on wet leaves walking in Singapore. The second time, I skidded onto hands and knees on a muddy patch along the road in Jakarta.

We were coming back from dinner in the dark the other night. Pavement in Indonesia can range from great to awful. I stepped sideways on a 3" repaved edge a foot or two from the side of the street and my foot tilted sideways. Before I knew it I was on the ground. Again. In the same sandals. (Hands and knees have a few scrapes and bruises. My trousers are intact. So the fall itself is no big deal.)

I've worn out four favorite pairs of walking shoes since we arrived. I have to splurge on some lasting footwear, a pain for someone who finds item-specific-shopping a chore. There's no Nordstrom's Rack nearby and I can't return a non-fitting shoe to Sierra Trading Post, my former go-to shops. Great walking shoes are expensive here so I will pray over an online order and have W bring it back, taking my chances.

Squished silver
It's been a learning and exploring week again.
Wednesday after class, we went to a family spa and had someone try to press the kinks out of us. W's back has been spasming (he says it's unrelated to the walking) and sometimes he's in a lot of pain. The massage relaxes us but doesn't help with physical issues. We put our watches and rings into W's knapsack. My silver family ring gets crushed out of shape and there's an imprint of woven cloth on the top. Oh no! W says a jeweler can fix it so I hand it over and put on the original brass one.

The insect exterminators came Thursday to explore and give an estimate ($1000). We are not imagining the infestation in the house. There are two kinds of termites everywhere in ceilings and wood trim (including a few doors and windows about to fall down) plus we have carpenter ants. The workers will have to take off some roof tiles and shimmy into the attic to clear the ceilings. The landlord had promised us he'd take care of insects before we moved in; we figure he'll negotiate a better rate for himself. We'll pay maintenance fees once he's paid the initial exterminations.

School was hard. The new teacher (W/Th) teaches kids English, so she brings pages of grammar exercises to help us make sense of the vocabulary we're acquiring. SOOO helpful, thank God! A few more things make sense and we have the basics to chat on the bus and along our morning walks.

Better than a good restaurant! Korean food
A Korean couple hosts a class lunch at their home for Thursday. With a few gas burners in a small kitchen (and a huge Korean-imported fridge), the wife cooks us an 8-dish meal with kim-chee, sticky rice, spinach omelet, noodles, and more = fantastic flavors, beautiful colors The food is mostly steamed (not fried!) so we all dig in and enjoy it.

Thursday, W also drives to school for the first time. The commute takes half the time and cut 4,000 steps out of our morning. Being a passenger to a "new" driver is a hair-raising experience. (Remember your teens learning to drive?) W's getting the hang of having the driver's seat on the opposite side of the car and driving on the left. He'll have to be as patient with me when I get my license (lost with my wallet the first week, so it's being replaced.)

We're home at 2, in time to pack up and head for the train station. We walk to the main street with our one rolling case and two little carry-ons. An angkot comes before the taxi so we hop on and for 70c are dropped at the station a mere 3/4 hour later. W drags our luggage across the long rail station parking lot and finds us bubble tea, which we sip before buying 4:15pm tickets to Jakarta. The 3-hour train ride costs $20 for both of us - much cheaper than car maintenance and we don't have to sit in traffic. The last two City-Trans (van) commutes were 5.5 hours for 100 miles.

The teachers and students we're beginning to love
The train winds past green mounds of rice plants waving on terraced slopes, palm-covered forsets, and houses both cobbled and crafted. The reddish soil along the track sis littered with cigarette packs, plastic garbage bags and food wrappers.

We get out on the wrong side of the station but one of the taxis dropping off passengers pauses for us - just as a policeman is explaining we have to go to the other side where the taxis queue.  We hop in for the $7 taxi ride. The driver thinks he's in the Grand Prix, racing between other vehicles and motorcycles. I quit looking at the road and pray for safety - which God grants in a record time of 1 hour.

By 8:30pm, we're hauling our bags into Sebastian Coffee Shop (a funky little restaurant across from the flat), where we eat a light supper. Then we flag a break in traffic (wave hands, palm down as we enter traffic), cross the street to push open the gates to the courtyard, and wave hello to the security guard. Up the steps and ---

oh, Gigi has been hard at work! There's pretty bedroom furniture, a flower arrangement on the dining table, and red-framed mirrors brightening up the LR wall. It's a lovely respite for this visual person. I sleep like a log, knowing nothing will fall on my face from the ceiling.

Friday morning, one of our churches sends me an email. Their women are shopping for their church-sponsored missionary wives, so it's time to think of Christmas presents. Is there anything I'd like? A few things spring to mind but the note itself makes my day. I laugh and then I tear up. That women across the world would think of blessing and praying for us ... wow.

The transition - from Seattle where I knew what was in my cupboards, having a clean and organized home with everything at hand -  to here where I'm missing doors on kitchen cupboards that are mildew-ing and being eaten alive - is probably bigger than I realized, if I'm having such an emotional reaction.

I'm feeling peckish from not sleeping well (bugs above my head) and not being able to communicate with locals. A few emails last week also sideswiped me with unexpected challenges. So submission to Christ and the learning process continues. Emails like the one this morning are God's gifts to my heart and soul. W and I are finding out that missy's are the ones most affected by their calling. Beyond what happens in others through our service, we are being changed inside and out. Thanks be to God.

Here are some random things about where we are that might interest you:

  • Many motorcyclists wear flip-flop sandals. Some gals drive wearing high heels and formal office wear. A few riders wear their coats backwards for better protection. 
  • A lot of people wear sweaters and coats in the tropical heat. Students pile backpacks on top, and a lot of women wear full head scarves in the 90o heat. I'm gasping in a cotton T-shirt. (I usually wear ugly but efficient heat-wicking travel gear since we're outside so much. If I were indoors, I'd wear normal clothes.)
  • Nights are pleasant in Bandung: 67-72oF. The lizards inside the house chirp to each other as soon as dusk, dark, and cooling begins.
  • A motorcycle takes the place of a 4-5 passenger car. Men and women pile 2-3 kids on the bike and take them to school or shopping. Sometimes the whole family is on one cycle. (We've become so accustomed to it that we hardly blink now, but it was a source of wonder at first!)
  • Kids learn to drive early. 12 and 13-year-olds take the car for a spin around the neighborhoods; youngsters 8-10 years old putt by on motorcycles. By the time they'd be getting a license (if anyone did), they're experienced drivers. 
  • Trees and plants shed their leaves, blooms, and seeds constantly. Everything needs trimming, pruning, and shaping. Maids and gardeners sweep, mop, and rake at least a few times a week.
  • Indonesia is green. Wherever a tree sprouts, it's left to grow. In the cities, sidewalks and streets veer around trees. The roots lift pavement and pavers. The trunks block the sidewalk or side of the street. 
  • Just like in North America, you have to be intentional about eating fruits and vegetables. Other than chilies, most food is fried and tan-colored, not green, red, purple, or yellow.
  • The violence of US movies seems shocking from our distance. When we see movies on the train or in electronic shops, know they're from Hollywood when people are getting stabbed, beaten, or assaulted. 
  • Cement has pliability added for flex during earthquakes. It's not the hard-cracked surface we know, though it looks the same.
  • Garbage is collected, sorted, and recycled by hand. Trucks may bring garbage to a central point in a neighborhood. It's often dumped on a sidewalk for sorting, so we breathe deeply before and after we swerve onto the street around it. Men and women go through the bags and take out recyclables to sell them. The man who called out in our neighborhood last weekend was thrilled with his haul of cardboard from our unpacking. He filled his cart and went off as happy as we were to see the last of it. 
  • It may be rainy season, but it hasn't rained in Bandung for weeks. The streets and water drainage ditches stink with garbage and dust. We're all waiting for a cleansing rainfall.
That's it for today. Blessings! 

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