Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Normal is as normal does

Tuesday, October 28.14
The bride and groom: Saturday
Today's my half-birthday so of course I'm celebrating by going to school all night. The M-Th Seattle coaching class runs 8:30am-4:30pm ... or 10:30pm-6:30am on our side of the ocean. After language school, I eat lunch, and reset my watch to Seattle time. After sleeping during the afternoon, it's time for class. Things wrap up in time to pull on shoes to leave for Bahasa Indonesia class at the seminary. (The intensive morning: 8-11:30am plus an hour's commute each way.)

The Northwest Ministry Network has kindly agreed to let me be the guinea pig for future Google Hangout courses. If our experiment works, cross-cultural workers around the globe can take advantage of classes and seminars - provided someone is willing to prop up their laptop or tablet to let the expat "into the room."

This first course is Coaching and Brain Science (the way the body/mind processes change). Head coach Amy D is doing the honors on her tablet for me M/T and fellow coach Dan N will take over when she presents the W/Th course. We had some internet disconnects, but for the most part - with the help of two good note-takers - I caught most of the class. We even coached each other online. I am so grateful to get the information from thousands of miles away.

It's one thing to have rain outside ...
and quite another ...
to have it streaming in through closed windows
 We called the landlord a few times after our helper mentioned that her husband "was done with repairs" by week's end. The ceilings in the DR, 4 bedrooms, and the porch still drip bug poop, but our bedroom and the kitchen are improved. The eaves are about to fall down over the back porch. And then a deluge of water came streaming in the windows in the back hall Sunday, during the first serious rain of the rainy season. Hopefully the home-built aluminum gutters and roof ridge installed today (Tuesday) will take care of that!

We hung around most of Friday and all day after lunch Sunday, waiting for the landlord to show up. The neighbors saw him inside our house Monday while we were at language school. He's not spoken to us in weeks. Sigh. It might be time to check in with the leasing agents again. A house is opening up a few doors down and we may consider that. Being able to use one out of five bedrooms hardly justifies the rent here.

Classmates: reunited at a wedding, plus a foreigner
W and I finally celebrated our September anniversary with a tasty lunch at Jubilare. It began peacefully - before two wild young'uns brought their complacent parents in. The kids ran around, grabbed my chair each time they reached my side of the room, and shouted. We packed up fairly quickly after their arrival and ran errands. Well, we had a plateful of things we wanted to accomplish.

Traffic was horrid. Our angkot took over an hour to make the trip to the building supply. Then the shop didn't have the locks or other items we were looking for. We took a taxi home but it was no faster. We'd left the house at 10am and made it in the door at 6pm. One lunch, a morning and afternoon errand accomplished. No wonder we never go anywhere on Saturdays!

Dr W had invited me to accompany her to the wedding of her classmate's children. We never know what to expect when we go to events but Dr. W had hinted it might be a formal affair. She and I had planned to leave at 6. I rushed into the house about then to change from the day's excursion, exhausted and sweaty. Time for a quick rinse and putting on wedding clothes! W stayed home to work.

The lovely smile of Dr W
By 6:10, I was at Dr W's door across the street ... makeup done, hair combed through, and sparkles glinting. (Fortunately, W had brought along a dressy outfit from his trip through Seattle.) Dr W's driver was stuck in traffic as well. We jumped into the car the minute he arrived and crept along to the Grand Royal Hotel - with over 1000 other guests.

We shook hands with the parents and the couple in the receiving line on a white-clad stage, and then walked around the room meeting people. Dr W hasn't gone to an alumni reunion since graduation and so was greeted by classmates she hadn't seen in 40 years. What fun! They were very welcoming and kind to me as well. The food? Can we say amazing? The vendors of Chinese and Indonesian foods, drinks, and deserts lined the perimeter and filled the center. Guests circulate, eat, and get acquainted.

On our way out after 9pm, we stood in line at the photo booth ... only to have them close the line as we got to the front. "Time's up!"

Folded just so - from head to toe
Ahead of us a big family posed and smiled. The women had the most elaborate headwear I've ever seen. "It takes hours to do something like that," Dr W said. Wow.


After church we met a couple and their son who is studying architecture at a famous university department in town. We decided to have lunch together. What a nice family: the husband was interested in design since he's a builder of Bali villas. They have lived in many parts of SE Asia. Their kids did high school in the USA, staying with relatives during their school years. So we had lots to talk about. And we hope to see them again.

We headed back to school in the morning. Our seminary friends came back to the house with us to negotiate a tricky situation. Friday, while W was tramping about the city and I was home, the helper's husband came inside at the end of the day. He asked me for money. When I asked what he exactly was asking, he wrote down goodly sum that he felt we owed him for the 10 days he'd stayed over while we'd been gone last week. (They'd actually stayed over 8 or 9 but we were gone for 10.)

Um. No. I told him Pak Waldemar handled the money and he could mention it to him on Monday. When W came home, I showed W the paper. "What?!" He was shocked. "I don't think so!"

I asked neighbors if the man's request was reasonable, and if not, what to do about it. "Nonsense!" they exclaimed. "Did you hire him? Your contract is with his wife. Our helper must stay over when we're away, and her husband is privileged to stay over with her. We certainly don't pay him. That man probably thinks you have a money tree growing in the garden and is shaking it to see if something falls down."

The construction site at our back door:
no barbecues allowed here yet.
They also told us their arrangement for salary and food for the maids. Someone mentioned that our helper's extended family had visited while we were away. (They may also have slept in our room despite our telling them it was off limits. The pillows smelled like smoke.) The neighbors were horrified at that possibility.

Our dear Indian friends (who'd helped negotiate the helper's job) came by after school Monday. We had a pleasant lunch, combining their seminary lunch with fresh sausage and a new bread recipe (our first "real bread" since our arrival). Then the dreaded chore of the day...

While I was preparing lunch, Waldemar called the helper's husband in. Our friends explained that he had no right to ask for any money: we had allowed him to stay because his wife had asked if it was ok. Awkward. I really like the helper and hope she stays, but our friends also cautioned us about how to behave more wisely toward help.

"You must keep the proper distance to have them respect you, and also that they will not take advantage of you." Good advice indeed.

So that's that. No more privileges of sleeping here, away from their little house, when we travel. No more free meals for the husband who had been hired by the landlord. No leftovers for the family. Our Western inclination is that more generosity is better. However, we feel blessed and protected by the insights of those who are accustomed to expectations within an "other" social order.

I fell asleep about 5pm after resetting my watch to 3am Seattle time. I woke at 8am (Seattle) and did the full day of coaching - until 4:30pm (6:30am here). It was interesting to hear the night prayers over the neighborhood loudspeakers. The security guys banged on the metal fences all around the neighborhood at various hours.

During the lunch break I baked bread which had been rising in a bowl on the table. What a fine "supper." So what if it was 2am here! It felt like noon.

Tuesday, W woke up with a headache. Both of us had just enough time and energy to get ready for school. I left a note for the helper to do specific chores rather than letting her figure it out. We were out the door before 7. Needless to say, we drooped at times in the day. Only 3 more night-days to go.

Now it's time for sleep! It's 1am in Seattle and I have to be up by 8.

Note: as we learn these new ways of being, we want our hearts to remain open and generous - but with grace and wisdom that suits our new surroundings. THANK YOU for your prayers that God will protect, teach, and use us for his glory.

Read more:
*Therefore keep the commandments of the Lord your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him. Deuteronomy 8:6 NEV

*Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Matthew 7:21 NEV

*All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:24-25 NEV

Moravian Prayer: Father in heaven, guide us in the path of your will. May we have enough love in our hearts for you Lord, that we keep your commandments. We ask forgiveness of our sins. Thank you, Lord, that we have been redeemed by your precious blood. Amen.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A fine fall day @ 86oF

Old mirror --> art backdrop
Thursday, October 23

Ok, so I caved. Fall arrived today at our house. Sort of.

A gardener was cutting branches along the side of the road and I carried some home. Last fall, knowing we were moving, I pressed some maple leaves. Though they faded, we took a handful of them along in our suitcase when we left Seattle.

We'd purchased a mirror for our bathroom a few weeks ago (so we could actually see ourselves before we left the house!) and I'd moved the ruined 16"X20"mirror to behind a tall glass vase. Today, I popped in the scavenged branches and threaded a few leaf stems through them for a 4'X4' fall arrangement - spare, bare, and quiet on the big entry cabinet.

On an end table
What makes me happiest is that it was 86o (30oC) outside when we found the branches. Perfect or what!

Today was cultural day at the language school. We went to the Post Office museum (Museum Pos Bandung) to see the history of mail service in Indonesia. They had old machines, paintings of how things used to be done, and pages and pages of stamps filed in cases, hung on panels and stored in cabinets on one wall. The filing system wasn't necessarily archival. The sun was shining on the display cases, and I suspect a philatelist enjoyed looking at the filed cases of stamps before putting them back randomly (without the manager's help?) The historical record of Indonesia - not to mention those of other countries - is impressive in stamps. Very enjoyable.

Here are a few things to explain the day:
Our class at the entry of the museum
Schoolchildren wait to enter
Among hundreds of sheets, one of national costumes 
A life-sized 3-D model of a historical photo (posted above)
The class leans on the sign in front
of the governor's office, the Gedung Saté (so-named
for the saté-shaped post on the roof
And in the other room, it's still summer ... cheery flowers from the hedge
On the way to school, this beauty caught my eye
along the neighbor's fence. (via IPhone)
And a final picture from yesterday: one of our patient teachers in front of the homework we posted on the board at language school

Guru Josie encourages us with a happy hand gesture
Read more:
*The Lord was with Samuel and let none of his words fall to the ground. 1 Samuel 3:19 NEV

*The Lord says, “When they call to me, I will answer them.” Psalm 91:15 NEV

*The same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. Romans 10:12 NEV

*Paul wrote: Our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. 1 Thessalonians 1:5 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Gentle Jesus, we call upon you in prayer asking for peace and health. May our congregations grow in spirit and number. Let us be the bearers of your message of love and compassion. 

Holy Spirit, as we worship you today may our hearts be filled with vigor and determination. You call each one of us to work for your kingdom. May we answer the call with joy and stand ready to serve. Amen. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A new president for Indonesia

Guppy bowl
Today it feels hot. We haven't started the wet season yet, though it's usually here by the beginning of October. Weather is measured by "dry" and "wet" seasons. Temperatures are similar year-round.

When we first moved in, the landlord donated a few dozen guppies for the basin outside. They eat mosquito larvae. When we get home from a trip, I catch a few for the bowl in the house. We bought an 8" LED light to keep the plants alive but didn't bother with a filter. I dump them back into the little pond when we leave. They're doing their job and they must be happy, having more than doubled in number.

Monday, October 20

From the BBC: the President's trademark hand gesture
Indonesia officially swears in a new president, Joko Widodo (popularly called Jokowi). He will have to balance the interests of the people with the decisions of entrenched politicians. We've watched other politicians and it seems that demanding change - without enlisting political and wealthy peers and ignoring majority interest groups - is guaranteed to polarize rather than unite a country. We're praying that God gives this new leader great wisdom during his 5-year term.

The inauguration day is a delight: it includes a swearing-in ceremony, prayers, parades, celebrations in various parts of Indonesia, and the cutting of a traditional cone of yellow rice, which Jokowi serves to people he's promising to help. These individuals represent groups without empowerment in the past, including single moms with kids, the poor, and islanders far from government halls, like those in Papua New Guinea. His campaign volunteers stream into the streets to cheer him on, while TVs serve as focal points for those who are unable to attend in person.

Tumpeng: a traditional way to honor guests
Miss Bee's Restaurant prepared for Hallowe'en
This evening, some gals have brought their girlfriend to our local restaurant, probably to celebrate her promotion or birthday. They paint her face with ridiculous makeup, wear silly hats, and have a happy noisy party at a nearby table. W snaps some pictures as the gals giggle together.

Waldemar hooks a mosquito net above the bed before he falls asleep at 8pm. He wakes again for an hour at 10 and then sleeps until early morning. I have another restless night.

The security guys bang on the metal fences each time they do their rounds through the neighborhood. At 3am, the local mosque begins a chant and before long the hillsides resound with the echoes from other centers. We pray when we awaken - for the new President and his team. For the peace of Indonesia. For great favor with nations around the world. For the safety of our neighbors. To be able to share and live out Good News.

Ikea fabric clips and sheets=new curtains
to replace the dirty gold ones

It's nice to wake up to clean curtains. When we moved in, I washed the old ones, an ugly gold-ish color that never cleaned up.

Now, with the bugs temporarily banished in our bedroom, I can start to inject personality into the decor. W brought back IKEA curtain clips that our kids picked up for us. I'd purchased extra flat sheets at Zara Home last month.

The solution to an ugly window? Take down the depressing drapes, make a quick measurement, fold down the top of the sheet to get the right curtain length, and clip on the hooks. The hooks fit through the existing curtain rods. How easy. There's no cutting. The room feels much cheerier.

Cool "slippers" for miles of walking. Thanks, Lia!
Language school starts at 8 as usual. Ibu A arrives before 7am, just as we are leaving the house to walk 1 km to the main street. We flag down the bus and hop off where it turns. We walk another 2-3 km to school. I'm wearing new sneakers from Lia. Oh my - I rarely find a shoe that doesn't rub a blister into my feet the first time around. Not these! It's like wearing supportive slippers.

We do a lot of review in class today. What a relief. We're actually starting to remember some of the words.

"Be happy. You can talk in sentences," Guru Josie encourages us. "You couldn't do that a few weeks ago." True.

Meanwhile, Ibu A has made a delicious lunch with baked chicken breast, green beans, rice, and papaya. She eats with Pak E in one kitchen while we eat at the main table. It's a bit weird but our expat friends have strongly warned us not to demand that they eat with us: doing so is not honoring to them or us.

She tells us our landlord has informed her husband (the carpenter repairing the house) that he must finish repairing the house this week. Today, Pak E is replacing the rotted beam on the garage ceiling. It holds up the roof so we haven't been able to store things in the garage attic: there's been a danger of the roof collapsing. Pak E is not allowed to do the two wings (4 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a kitchen). I guess we'll be negotiating to pro-rate the lease agreement for next year accordingly. The work has to be done and the carpenter seems to be hardworking. He's done a good job so far.

Ibu A shares a cup of chai with us - oh what yummy tea from W's sis. When W returned, we sent a box of Peppermint Tea home with Ibu A. She tells us she likes Trader Joe's Peppermint Tea as much as we do. We browse through the pictures W took at her nephew's circumcision party a few weeks ago. We'll make copies so she can have them at home.

It's such an honor to pray. To think about how we can serve those we are getting to know.

Read more:
*To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame. Psalm 25:1-2 NEV

*Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! Psalm 27:14 NEV

*I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart. Psalm 40:8 NEV

*The Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost. Luke 19:10 NEV

*I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ's return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation-the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ-for this will bring much glory and praise to God. Philippians 1:9-11 NLT

Moravian Prayer: Seeker of the lost, grant us the courage to rise out of our comfortable pews and go into the world sharing the good news. Send your refreshing spirit upon our churches that we may add to your kingdom. Amen.

C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity
‘Niceness’—wholesome, integrated personality—is an excellent thing. We must try by every medical, educational, economic, and political means in our power to produce a world where as many people as possible grow up ‘nice’; just as we must try to produce a world where all have plenty to eat. But we must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world—and might even be more difficult to save.

For mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine. God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. It is not like teaching a horse to jump better and better but like turning a horse into a winged creature. Of course, once it has got its wings, it will soar over fences which could never have been jumped and thus beat the natural horse at its own game. But there may be a period, while the wings are just beginning to grow, when it cannot do so: and at that stage the lumps on the shoulders—no one could tell by looking at them that they are going to be wings—may even give it an awkward appearance. ...

Here is another thing that used to puzzle me. Is it not frightfully unfair that this new life should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him? But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him. But in the meantime, if you are worried about the people outside, the most unreasonable thing you can do is to remain outside yourself. Christians are Christ’s body, the organism through which He works. Every addition to that body enables Him to do more. If you want to help those outside you must add your own little cell to the body of Christ who alone can help them. Cutting off a man’s fingers would be an odd way of getting him to do more work.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Homeward bound

Opa plays peekaboo with the grandkids
Sunday, October 19

He's back. Yay - Waldemar brought himself, tea, and a few other things from Seattle - including Christmas ornaments from our kids. It is good to have him back. I was in Jakarta while he was gone, for reasons of safety, security, and sanity.


After my day of language studies and relaxation on Wednesday, J sends a driver over Thursday morning to pick me up for Life Group. After passing through several security checkpoints,  we make it to Sally's lovely apartment and a warm welcome.

Flowers plucked from the yard, in a one-of-a-kind vase :
glass hand-poured over a little tree stump.
There's something about meeting with women. We share an instant camaraderie. These women are travelers who have roamed the world and encountered many world-views and curiosities. 8 of us gather around a beautiful round table to talk about living out our common faith. J is a natural leader and facilitator. She and S are a great team: our discussion centers around Jesus' request about inviting the outcasts and needy to share in God's generosity.

The papaya and mango cubes are delicious, and the spicy rice, wrapped in banana leaf, tastes enak-enak (totally yummy). The fruit here has overtones of flavor beyond the standard kinds we can buy in North America.

J tells me the driver has worked for the family since she was 14. Now her children are the same age, and the driver continues to bless them. The driver's son is doing the same. How cool! The older driver has me back at the flat before 2. I thought I was tired enough to take a nap but end up watching Indonesian and Korean TV (sound and story) and studying. Twelve hours later, I fall asleep.


Sometime in the week, Avery and I
have the old polish peeled off our toes
and our feet made sandal-ready.
Hearing Avery's heart for ministry and her call to God's mission encourages me. She's lives in the church-owned flat where W and I landed in Jakarta. For the week, while W's gone, I enjoy the clean space and deep sleep of nothing in bed but me. No bug falls nearby, no dirt lands on the sheets in the guest room. Ah - "sleep tight, don't let the bugs bite" is a sweet thought.

While W and I are gone, our helper and her husband sleep over at our place. They stay hard at work all week. He builds bamboo scaffolding so he can take apart, clean, and fumigate the ceilings. (They're as high as 17' high  at the ridge.) Every day, Ibu A will clean the mess that falls down. She also washes and irons our bedding and scrapes the hard-water stains from the bathroom floors and scrubs the dirt from our bedroom floor.

The landlord apparently comes by a few times. He is appalled by the live termites. (No, they weren't all dead as he'd hoped!) The leasing agents also swing by. Ibu A says they take pictures for their records. Good! We don't contact anyone at the house while we're away but let them work away. We'll find out the news - good or bad - when we get home.


PD preaches on the Prodigal Son with
Micha's creation as backdrop
There's time for a swim in the pool before heading to church around noon. The staff is wonderful: they share stories and advice about learning the language and starting small groups. Katie promises to share her 2-week intensive course notes. Mario reads our text in amazement: "No one speaks like that! We used those words back when I was in elementary school. They're so old-fashioned." Maybe Jakarta is hipper than Bandung, too?

The senior pastor's family and our friends the B's take exceptional care of us. It's the little things that stump us. I buy a big drink at Starbucks in the lobby because I missed lunch. However, Stephano B shows me how to order lunch through the church's helpers, who run down to the shops on the lower levels of the skyscraper and bring up food. Meanwhile, the worship pastor is hard at work on the stage design. Micha is full of creative ideas - I'm often surprised by what he comes up with.

Gourami fish at Senayan Restaurant
The service refreshes my heart. Oh the worship! Though I'm not a singer, the music always minister to me. (Click here to hear one of my favorites online.) Pastor Dave's message is on Luke 15 (about the lost sheep, lost coin, and prodigal son and his brother). He invites us into God's presence and then sends us as messengers of hope into the world.

Afterwards, B's take me home - but first we stop for traditional Indonesian food: chicken saté, gourami fish, a Javanese soup with crisp chips and roasted peanuts, garlic crackers, and rice. Indonesians know how to cook! It heartens me up to be with friends: I'm missing my husband.


W calls from the airport after 8am: he's landed and is getting luggage. I dive into the pool for a quick swim but forget to put in my earplugs. The foam keeps popping out of my wet ears so I manage only 20 laps and have to quit.

Volunteers (including Avery) participate in
a medical and children's service day in Jakarta
Before I know it, there's a knock at the door and there he is! Hurrah - larger than life and energetic: he slept on each flight and had no trouble at immigration or customs.

I debated all weekend: should I drive the car to Bandung or have the tired man drive? I make the decision based on this: "I only regret what I don't try. "So I hop into the passenger seat with the car key - oops - remember you'll be on the right side of the car as driver. Step out and get in the right side door.

It's a piece of cake. Traffic is comparatively light and vehicles flow from lane to lane. Sometimes it's stop and go. I have to get used to the tolls and I occasionally flip on the wipers instead of the turn signal. Weird. Wipers are on the left, signals are on the right. (W did the same when he first drove; he admits he did it again in Seattle after driving here.) But no problem. Who cares? And the windows are clean.

It's relaxing and fun to drive after 4 months of riding along. It's certainly less nerve-wracking to negotiate the freeways and winding neighborhoods as driver than as passenger! We're home in less than than 2.5 hours, even with zig-zag detours as directed by Waze (app).

Ibu A and Pak E have been working their hearts out at the house. Your prayers have brought this dear Sundanese couple to us. We could not have found better help. Ibu A and I agree with big smiles that we two are happier with progress. The house is sooo much cleaner. She kisses my cheeks and gives me a big hug because I'm so pleased. We say we are adik and kakak (little and big sisters, though I'm just a few years older.)

The curtains she washed and rehung have gone from dirty gold to a lighter shade. The only "crumbs" on the kitchen counter are from the kitchen cabinets where termites still rule. The cabinets need replacing, with or without the landlord's help. (If we and our mission partners have to fund them, we'll put the old junk back when we leave and take the new cabinets along.)

Pak E has built a frame for the sink and replaced the crumbling drawer, eaten away by termites in our bathroom. He's finished replacing and fumigating the ceiling in our bedroom, one living room, and the kitchen, and is working on the offices and other rooms. Nothing seems to be missing or broken. We give our helpers Seattle chocolates and tea, with a jar of peanut butter for their grandkids. And offer our heartfelt thanks. Much better than expected - or hoped. Onward - until it's done. Thanks be to God!

When Ibu A leaves, I snag a dozen guppies from the pond for our indoor fish bowl, arrange flowers in a vase we bought in Lombok (at the field retreat in July), and put up fresh shower curtains. They started as white sheets "painted" with Sharpee markers to cheer up the windows of my Seattle office.

We head to town at 3. I haven't eaten yet! and W had breakfast in Singapore at 6am. (If I don't eat breakfast, I am not hungry.) I enjoy a half dinner and W helps out by eating his and a chunk of mine. He's looking for a new doorknob for the bathroom (currently doesn't close) and new locks for the bedroom  (we've loaned out our keys while away). I pass 11,000 steps for the first time since W left Indonesia - and actually enjoy the familiarity of the little angkot public buses.

Lia shares beauty as easily as most
of us breathe in and out.
When W unpacks, it's a bit like Christmas. Jim and Sallee gave us two plastic bins last year so we could pack fragile things. W's included my dental retainer, bug repellent, and greeting cards from Trader Joes, amongst other things. Our kids put in a personal ornament each. (I brought only two silver hearts from home. They'd look lonely at Christmas! No worries now - we have enough for a small display.) Kim sends dot notebooks.  Sylvia sends home magazines and tea. Mom K's jam and my mom's cookies promise good tastes to come. Sharon sends chocolate chips. Other friends tuck a bit of this and that from home in: I'm overwhelmed by their love and the greetings W passes along.

Perfect shoes to go with other treats
When evening comes, I open the last package - from my friend Lia. It makes me smile just looking at the box. She is an artist through and through: even the package brings great pleasure! And inside = marvelous shoes, a Seahawks T-shirt, and a journal notebook. I've been keeping my eyes out for a guest book without success. This book is the PERFECT size and color. Every guest can enjoy it with us!

W turns the TV on to an Indonesia channel - and instantly falls asleep. It's 8pm. He did pretty well!! I'm up until 11. We have school tomorrow so we'll be up again at 5:45am.

Read more:
*Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 NEV

*Thus shall you say to one another, among yourselves, “What has the Lord answered?” or “What has the Lord spoken?” Jeremiah 23:35 NEV

*Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:17 NEV

Moravian Prayer: Father, help us to understand and accept your will. Open our hearts to see the many answers to our prayers that you have given us. Thank you for your spiritual presence in our lives and let us be living witnesses for Jesus. Amen.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Left behind: the week between this and that

 It’s indeed a peaceful time tonight, Tuesday. I’m in Jakarta for the week while W is in the States on company business. Hopefully the workers at our house in Bandung are scraping off the bug accumulations to make it a comfy place for guests and friends. Here's what's happened so far:

W, happy with his 82c haircut and art excursion,
holds up his masterpiece
Thursday, October 9, 2014

Today's cultural experience is a trip with the language class to Barli's Art school near Bandung. He's a famous painter. His wife greets us and introduces the school. First we shake bamboo instruments that are tuned to C scale. I get the instrument pitched E. When #3 (E) shows up on the chart, I shake it. We play a few songs, mostly movie themes.

"Play by numbers". Each person gets a
bamboo instrument with the pitch number on it
Then we get to paint! Oh, I've been thinking about a flower on the neighbor's shrub for a week - and wanting to paint it. Instead of the bold graphics others put on their vases, I try to remember the flower. It's not a successful likeness, but I don't care. It's such a relief to hold a paintbrush again.

becomes this.

Isabelle, you definitely earned those flowers!
We're all proud of you.
From school, W drives to Jakarta.    Drives.    To Jakarta.    Believe me, it's a big deal. We pull into the gates of the apartment with great relief. He packs and repacks and makes sure everything is set to leave for Seattle. I press down my feelings about being left behind. Focus on the positive. I'll have time for language studies. How exciting. 

We eat homemade soba noodles at Dave and Gigi's with 2 other pastors. They have invited us to the first night of a school play for which their daughter is stage manager. It's funny, professional, and presented in a gorgeous auditorium. Many professional companies would be happy to do as well as these students of the #1 International high school in Jakarta. 

And W flies home.


Wake. Pray. Swim. Thank you God for water and the ability to move and float through it. That is all.

A net covers the open casket.
Then we head to the wake of Tirza's dad. (He was younger than we are.) Throughout the day, various staff members go to her parents' church and express their sympathy. She preaches the memorial service that evening.

At IESJakarta, we're in a series called, "Dr. Luke invites you to dinner." Pastor Dave encourages us to leave our preconceptions of church rules behind, to continue the mission of Jesus. We share communion in groups across the auditorium.


Avery and I have a day off. After a swim and language study, we're at Pondok Indah Mall before 1pm. First, we secure an appointment for a foot massage. I’ve seen a map of the mall so I’m pretty sure where the place is. 

"Where is the Kenzo massage store?" we ask the man at the mall door . 

He points to another mall across the street. “You have to go to Mall 1. There is no such place here.” We walk past him into the parking lot in spite of his directions and there it is, the first shop outside the door. However, the earliest availability for a session is at 5pm.

What on earth is there to do in a mall for 4 hours?! We eat lunch at a Japanese fast-food booth and look around. I walk 8000 steps, try on a few things, and buy trousers and a top. Avery has only been in town for 2 weeks. She finds bargains on shoes, a pretty dress, and a few other bits she needs as she settles in.

Finally, it’s time for dim lights and a foot rub. The past months of walking have pinched a nerve so my big toe seizes up when I point my toes. The massage helps. We buy a few groceries afterwards and take a taxi home at 7. By 8, we’ve made supper: rice, corn, and sausage. Yum. 

My evening task: sending out our weekly photo of The New Normal to a few hundred subscribers. And learning a few more words.


After my quick swim (30 laps), Pastor Dave takes us along to church at 9. The staff meeting is the highlight of my week when we’re here. I love the liturgy, praying and reading scriptures that have been spoken by generations before us. It gives me a sense of continuity and community, of God living among his people in different places, at different times. Micha, the arts leader, brings a blow-in keyboard to lead the 2 guitars playing for worship. “Never a dull moment,” says another staff member. Sounds good though.

Lunch together is time for everyone to relax. We talk about theology, life, and ministry. Our hearts turn toward Tirza and her loss. We also share stories of how strange and funny Church life can be. We are odd ducks, one and all, swimming in the common pond of God’s grace.

Guess what we saw at the mall? yup - a Lamborghini or two
One of the staff is speaking at High Tea, a gathering of about 25 women in a nearby hotel. We're a bit early so we walk through the mall to the hotel lobby, admiring the Italian cars parked between shops.

Worship starts with a cha-cha-cha rhythm programmed into the keyboard. The women sing with enthusiasm. 

The speaker points out that each of us is lost, using three stories from Luke 15. Some of us wander off (the lost sheep), some are lost through circumstances (the lost coin), and others willfully disobey (the Prodigal Son). Christ seeks us out and reconciles us with God. I’m full of wonder at God’s persistence. My heart is refreshed. When we’re done, the table is spread with a dozen main dishes and desserts.

The wife of one of the original founders of IESJakarta encourages me. Others talk about their interests, ask for help with visas (sorry – I’m not American), and otherwise include me in their conversations. I’d attend the meeting regularly if we lived here.

Pastor Dave, our coach and mentor, asks me today how much language we want to acquire. We actually don’t know that yet. We think the answer will become clearer as we get to know people around us. We probably want enough Bahasa Indonesia that the hearts and intentions of those around us are not completely hidden.

Dreaming of a kitchen cabinet strong enough to hold
our dishes ... what's going on at home while I'm gone?
This is supposed to be my week to catch up on language studies. (As if I could learn 300+ words a day and actually catch up.) It’s discouraging to review the list of 100 words written down the first two days. There’s no capturing all this vocabulary in the next months, never mind this week. But it’s exciting to think that we will know what all this means – in due time. I try to memorize three or four words, a few times a day. Some stick. Others are new each time I look at them. I try out the words as we go out. Even the little I know helps in getting around. Berkumpul: gather. Berangkat: leave.

Before 6, we’ve driven home in the lightest traffic I’ve seen in Jakarta. I tackle my language book, eat a mini-Magnum ice cream bar, write, and talk to a peer in Seattle before heading to sleep at midnight.

Read more:
*I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1 ESV

*Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV

*Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Patient Father, when we do not understand the events of life that trouble us, let us turn to you in prayer. Change our sorrows into joy. Give us the courage to show our thanks in all circumstances. Thank you, Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Two Teas till Tuesday

A find: where to enjoy Indian food
We discover a good Indian restaurant with our friends from India. So Sunday, our post-church lunch is excellent. The debate is where to eat that is not too warm. Ah, a breeze is blowing through the patio. Snag a seat, enjoy a banana leaf plate, and eat with your (newly washed) fingers. Totally yummy. So what if your thumb gets stained yellow by the curries.

Monday, October 7

After class, we run some errands. The bank reminds us that we need our original passports and visas for banking transactions. So our bank business must wait until tomorrow. One more stop before we head home: the water bill has to be paid each month in person,  downtown. (Apparently our bank doesn't do money transfers to pay online. Oh well.)

We're home in time to take a short nap. W's not 100% well yet and I'm tired from a short night. Crash.

The strange juxtaposition that is Bandung: palm trees,
Dutch heritage (a windmill on a bakery), planes overhead,
and the chaos of unregulated buildings
Dr. W crosses the street at 5, from her house to ours. She exclaims over the new arrangement. We've moved furniture, making the rooms more livable with the same stuff we inherited. We haven't added art or made it our own yet.

We share a late tea of homemade apple pancakes, cut papaya and lime, and a few local baked goods. The pancakes are fresh and hot. We've begun a neighborly tradition of taking food home. We always have goodies after visiting Dr. W's house so she happily takes some pancakes for tomorrow's breakfast with her. We talk about how God loves us and how grateful we are for his care.

In the evening, I try to review some of our language studies. A few things are starting to stick in my brain. Acquisition is slow but W insists that we'll reach a critical mass when lots of words will sort themselves out. We're glad to be learning grammar as well as vocabulary. Having a TV helps SO much. We've begun to piece together patterns of how the language is used.

Tuesday, October 8

Watch your feet. A typical
sidewalk ... when there is one.
Today's class focus is review - just the two of us and a tutor, without Augustine and Sumathi. They've flown off for a week, conducting business in India. I miss my friends already. During the half-hour class break, W heads to the bank with our passports. He comes back with the mission accomplished.

We are welcomed home by the usual savory smells of Bu A's cooking. Today she's cut up a fresh mango and baked a casserole of rice, broccoli, cauliflower, and sausage. It's another winner - she has a flair for seasoning! Both W and I have seconds. One of us has thirds. I ask her if she will cook this - (and the gourami fish and the wilted green veges) when we have company. They'll love it!

She and her husband Pak E are living in the house while we're gone next week. He and another fellow will open the ceilings to clean out the insect damage. Theoretically that will clear out most of the mess we live in. I don't really want to be here while that's done! Ibu A will clear out what falls down. I'm hoping to come back to a clean house, but she warns me that the men might not finish the whole place before we get back.

W heads out for a haircut while I wrap my blanket over my head and nap for an hour. It was another short night last night. I woke a few minutes after falling asleep and then couldn't get back to resting until almost midnight. The morning arrived too soon: on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we're up at 5:30am.

Dr. H is a wonderful hostess.
At 4, we get lost on our way to tea at Dr H's place. She's the medical doctor we met on the way to church Sunday. Luckily, we have a phone number. We turn around and go the opposite way. There she is! waiting on the street for us. Her husband cannot speak English and we're not yet fluent in bahasa Indonesia. Soon, we tell ourselves. Soon.

Dr. H speaks excellent English, among other languages. Before she retired, she studied or worked in public health in Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh, and around Indonesia. Her house is lovely. She's collected ethic art throughout SE Asia. The territorial views from the upper floor - on three sides of the house - are stunning. The rooms wrap around a plant-filled, two-storey atrium that makes us feel like we've stowed away in a secluded greenbelt. The wind rustles the palm fronds reaching for the sky beside us as we sip tea and eat.

Oh my - she has prepared a lot for her high school reunion which ended before we arrived, and also for us. We sample the banana-leaf wrapped rice and Dutch Croquettes. Both delicious. (Regrets because we ate so much of Ibu A's good home-cooking? Ah ... nope. Never.)

Before: the windowsill looks a little worn but not bad
After: simply lift the sill off for evidence: happy termites indeed
The sun has set by the time we get home. House repairs are ongoing. W packs for Seattle and Springfield and is asleep by 8pm. Meanwhile, I write, read, and send out a New Normal photo to subscribers.

Email us at rosemee@hotmail.com, subject line: New Normal, if you'd enjoy a photo every week or two = something that is normal here but not seen in Seattle. There's no obligation and it's one click to unsubscribe if you change your mind.

Read more:
*If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. Genesis 4:7 NIV

*Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. Joel 2:23-24 NIV

*Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV*See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.

But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3 NIV

Moravian Prayer: Great conqueror of sin and death, thank you for the strength and courage that your Spirit provides. Keep us firm in our faith and grounded in truth. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the destruction of sin. In the name of Jesus. Amen.