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.

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