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.

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