Sunday, October 5, 2014

Strange stories

Goats come in all colors (including this one in "Oreo Cookie").
Both does and bucks are sold for sacrifices. The seller quotes
$200-400 each but locals get better prices than we would.
Connections are on my mind tonight. How does God tie life together for you? Here are a few of our connections this weekend, in these strange stories of God-with-us.

1. Spiritual. The sounds of the mosque prayers rang out from 5:30pm last night (Saturday) until this morning. The prayer-callers were busy off and on yesterday but the real action started at sunset. "Ear plugs are a good idea," suggests my friend across the street. I fall asleep at 1am, with the voices bouncing off the hills. Of course I'm exhausted when I wake at 6:30.

This past week, in anticipation of the 4-day feast of Eid al-Adha, goats were sold on many street corners. A looped rope is passed through a temporary bamboo railing and connects the heads of pairs of goats. We saw slaughtered animals on the backs of motorcycles and live ones trotting along the side of the street with buyers holding the leashes. Goodbye 

Cousins celebrate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice Ishmael and God's provision of a lamb instead. (The Bible names Isaac. Same story. Different sons. Genesis 22) On our way home from church, W points out various crowds gathered in open spaces. He thinks they might be doing ritual slaughter. I want to check it out but his stomach is still not up to much after some kind of bug last week. He isn't in any shape to hop off the angkot with me and I can't stay by myself. We miss the whole thing but maybe next year.

Communion with the Baptists: the table
set with flowers and a caption overhead -
Holiness to the Lord
The many local prayers and rituals remind us that God is found in relationship. We are so grateful for the Son who loved us and gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins! He is the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8).

2. People: We couldn't plan the connections God is bringing our way. Friday, some gals from IES Jakarta hail me in a Bandung outlet store. It's only my second excursion into the outlets since we got here. We're choosing a few gifts for W to take to our Seattle family. The Jakartans are on a shopping stop, before meeting a group for white-water rafting Saturday. 

One of them mentions that her family lives in Bandung. "My mom would like to meet you," she says. She takes my phone number.

This morning (Sunday), we are running late on the way to church. A lady walks up to us as we wait for the angkot at the main street. "Are you Rosemarie?" she asks.

I admit it with some surprise. She asks a few more questions, including whether we are connected with IES Jakarta. (Yes we are.) We discover that she is the "Friday Girl's" mom, who we were hoping to meet. She lives only a few blocks from our house. We find out she's a medical doctor as we ride in together. We sit in the same bench at church and introduce her to our friends Sumathi and Augustine. She introduces us to her friends in the parking lot after service. We exchange phone numbers and she also invites me to tea at her place on Tuesday.

German honey cookies and "biscotti"
 (almond cookies)
3. Cultural: Food reminds us of home. I've been craving a taste we can't get here and I don't know what it is. When we moved, I packed a little Baggie of cookies baked by my mom last Christmas - yes, we eat them all year. Today I opened the bag for the first time. We pulled out 2 cookies each for W and me. Eating them helped.

4. Habits: I'm spacey in learning and easily distracted. To get through my PhD, I'd run a bath and sit in the hot water, reading my textbooks until the bubbles were gone. It became a brain-saving habit.

I'm really far behind in language class memorization. Our surroundings-in-process have meant a big diversion of energy. All kinds of "little things" are missing in the house, including drain stoppers. W hasn't been able to find one anywhere in Bandung. Even ACE Hardware has been out for months with no idea when they'll have stock again.

Ugly but effective. Yes, that wrench is
in the bath water, white hard-water stains
line the edges, and a hole-to-nowhere
has been drilled in the tub itself...
In desperation today, I finally stop up the drain with plastic wrap. W loans me a crescent wrench to keep it from floating away - and I get my first bathtub-study session. It takes ages to fill water to 4" with the low-pressure shower head. (There is no direct faucet.) The hard water stains have resisted scrubbing and I loathe burgundy (the tub color). But I get a lot of work done between reheating the water and looking up words on Google Translate.

5. Serendipity: we can't anticipate God's gifts. Saturday, we drive to the train station about noon to meet someone delivering a TV purchased for us by friends from IES Jakarta. The tiny porter, also laden with 2 suitcases for another man, walks to our car with the big package.

I've forgotten how quiet a house is without TV or radio. (W listens to his beloved jazz on headphones.) We already recognize a lot of words on the news. We need to listen for an hour or more a day to capture the language and how it's used. How grateful we are for this provision!

Today we hear good news. Our friends have negotiated the return of W's IPhone! It was pick-pocketed 6 or 7 weeks ago in Jakarta. It took the Bs many weeks of talking but they meet up with the kids who purchased it (and couldn't make it work.) Yay for Apple's lock-out ... and especially for God's grace and favor. 

These same friends got my IPhone back a month after it was lost during the week we arrived in Jakarta. One return is almost unheard of. Two? "It never happens. You never get your phone/s back," we were told over and over. 

But you prayed. Our friends worked hard. And we are amazed and grateful to God.

Count your blessings, see what God has done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one.
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done! 

Read more:
*Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3 ESV

*But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations.

His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. Ephesians 2:13-16 NIV

*You ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:15 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Spiritual Father, may we each celebrate and serve you with love and joy. Grant us wisdom to be Christ-like every moment of the day with which you have blessed us. Hear our prayer. Amen.

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