Thursday, January 29, 2015

A day and a half

A man in traditional Sunda dress,
as we walk down the hill
Wednesday, January 28
We walk down to the hospital. Or at least we start walking. After 2 miles, the lightning and thunder hit. The rain starts so we hop into a passing angkot. Within a few blocks, it turns away from where we want to go, so W checks the Rute app on his phone. We are indeed going the wrong way: if we had walked another 200 meters in the rain, we would have had a direct bus. Argh.

When W asks the driver, he tells us to hop out at the next corner to catch another bus. His directions are confirmed by other riders. I pull on my raincoat as we leave the door but by the time my arms shrug into the sleeves, I am utterly soaked. Hair: check, wet. Trousers: check, soaked to the hips. Blouse: damp. Oh well. I'm steaming inside my rain gear because it's warm (83oF / 28oC). 

Nice. Well, nicer than cold rain.

Sumathi has been in hospital with an infection since Monday. Her phone died and she didn't have a charger along so she had no way of letting us know. She's at the best hospital in town, Borromeus, a Catholic institution with multiple buildings and floors. We find Lantai tiga, Ruang tiga (floor 3, room 3) in the right wing - and there she is.

Showing off hospital jewelry: a bracelet for
allergies, one for dizziness, and an ID
She looks angelic. The ironed white white sheets and hospital gown highlight her beautiful skin and face. She has a drip of liquids, meds, and nutrients but is on a strict diet so we can't bring her treats. She has a novel or two and some magazines to read. (But there's no place like home.) And Augustine has been sleeping over because the nursing care is slow and thin, even in the best places. 

We all sigh over memories of the excellent care when we lived in England. There we could see a doctor any time, care was inexpensive (or free), and the medical team paid close attention to our needs. "When we took our son in, the doctor called that evening because he'd forgotten one bit of caution about the medicine," Sumathi remembers.

W and a new coffee crew
W is gone by 6, walking to meet some guys in a coffee shop. It's about 2.5 miles away, near the hospital. 4 guys show up and decide to meet again. They enjoy time together. W's missing his coffee meet-ups with Saturday morning regulars in Seattle.

The phone pings W's progress on the walk and his arrival at the restaurant. 

I have to be up and showered when the helper comes at 8.  So I have a quick show and am ready to unlock the door. I'm even wearing jeans and my Seahawks T-Shirt in anticipation of Sunday's Superbowl, courtesy of Lia. (Thanks!)

Except - oh no! It's only 7am. I could have slept another hour. (Well, maybe if my phone pings were turned off!) Here, everyone uses WhatsApp to message. It's free on the phone and instantly transfers photos and texts. But I have an annoying notice ringer set. Might be time to change that. I call our moms and the phone cuts in and out. Lousy internet connection today.

A Singapore transplant
in the neighbor's yard
Ibu A serves fried and breaded fish today. W's jalapeƱo peppers taste great with the rice and veges, too. But they're too spicy for Ibu A when she tries one. She runs to the waste basket and quietly spits it out as soon as I leave the kitchen, rinsing her mouth afterwards. She has a more sensitive stomach for "heat" in food than we do. We do like heat in our food.

I ask her 5 new words. Boleh saya bertanya? (May I ask a question?) She tells me the Indonesian words and corrects my diction. There are a few other things that warrant attention: 

  • An American family coming for language school needs housing: their friends will drop by in a week or so.
  • W and I walk down the hillside to make a 30-second promo video for friends who are coming to Indonesia.
  • My head whirls with possibilities of the neighboring house. If I can think through spaces, when we land - and this place is a possible landing place - the furniture arranges itself and resources start gathering toward the functions of the rooms.
  • It's time to send the photo and caption for our weekly "New Normal." That MailChimp email often takes an hour or two, by the time I hunt down a photo, write, preview it with W, and send.
We are ready to head to the hospital to do some visiting when Ibu A leaves at 3 ... except that it starts raining as though God's preparing another flood. We wait until 4:30 when it calms down a bit. The thunder claps, bangs, and rolls against the hillsides and water gushes down the drainage ditches. Yes, we're taking the car today.

By 5:30 we're almost there. The parking attendant helps W back into a spot so tight that I have to get out and tuck in the side mirror on my side before he squeezes in. W sidles out his door, glad for every pound he's shed.

We are delighted to see that Sumathi is doing much better. The new meds are helping and there's a chance that she'll be on her way home in the next day or two! Hurrah.

Young and enthusiastic: a gathering at the nursing station
We have one more stop on our way home. The walk to the second hospital's lobby is hazardous in itself. We step up and down curbs, around barriers, and dodge motorcycles and cars negotiating the narrow lanes from the parking lot. Everyone else is doing the same. Ibu V looks much better than yesterday, W notes. Her fever has broken. W's been up a few times since my last visit, stopping by after doing errands. He usually reads several psalms and prays with her and her daughter, who is her primary caregiver.

By 8, we're on the way home and really hungry. We give the "man on the street" a few coins for his trouble, shouting instructions to W as he pulls into an easy parking spot. We eat (Chicken Cordon Bleu-ish for me; a breaded fish and chips for W) and drink mango juice - and still have enough to tip the servers with a Rp100.000 bill (about $8).

It's 9pm when we pull into the driveway. The hallway, kitchen counter, and a few floors are wet from the leaking roof. We wipe up, drink a glass of tea and catch up on emails, and then it's time to coach. The call comes at 10 and since it's our first time and it's a friend I love, I'm done about 11:15. 

Time to finish the blog post and definitely time to wrap up the day. Sunrise comes before 6am tomorrow. Please forgive any edits left undone.

Read more:
*Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart. Psalm 36:5-10 NIV
*And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:35 ESV

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Beauty and a blink

Ah, the blog deletes itself in an internet blink. Argh. I'll tell the week in pictures and bullets. Here's a quick reprise:
  • We have a steady stream of guests. People drop in, between those we invite.
Beautiful gowns in a neighborhood shop window
  • Saturday we host our first life group toward starting IES Bandung = brunch with seven others. I bake an artichoke frittata, spicy yoghurt chicken, homemade bread, and sweets. Dr W brings fried bananas. Sumathi cooks too, though she is sick to her stomach. Ibu A makes rice and cleans up. What a treat to have friends come by. (And to have a good helper.)
Life group participants
  • We walk a lot this week - Sunday we walk 5 miles around town after service.
  • We've made some hospital visits and run errands. Everything takes longer than we expect.
Confident pose: a young landscaper balances
between a tall wall and an iron fence to clip a 15' hedge.
Yes, he is that high up: the green wall is 10' tall.
Tuesday, January 27
We start the day by going through a potential house with building inspectors. They say it's sound structurally, though old. They find no termites. The ants are to be expected and kept at bay by spraying. But they say the landlord is asking too much for the lease in this neighborhood. We will move there if she accepts a win-win offer, quite high $ for here, but still reasonable for expats.
Considering our options
The leasing agent says that the current landlord, based on his non-response so far, is unlikely to refund our money from the remaining 6-month lease here.
Ants galore. Here. There. Everywhere.
However, God can do miracles - either by providing housing here for someone who is praying for provision ...  or by us getting money back. We have seen some astonishing answers to prayer so who knows.
A neighbor's bloom, shaped like a Christmas tree
From there, we walk to our first lesson with the language tutor before lunch. By the time he says 4 words, I've forgotten the first 2. That makes it hard to repeat sentences. My, this will take some effort. Maybe a new brain would help?
Wooden wind chimes help deter fruit bats
Then Oktavia drops by for lunch 1-3pm. She's moving to Jakarta, a real loss for us. Again, Ibu A makes a nice meal. How we appreciate her.
  • Tomorrow and Thursday we'll be online with American friends and do some long-distance coaching. (I'm a certified personal coach.)

Everything grows in pots,
even pineapples
And that about sums it up. What are you up to?

Read more:
*I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously. Exodus 15:1 ESV

*Lord, who would not fear you, O King of the nations? For that is your due. Jeremiah 10:7 ESV

*If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 ESV

*We must obey God rather than human beings!  Acts 5:29 NIV

*If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 NLT

*For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:12-13 ESV

Moravian Prayer: King of all nations we offer our praises to you! We apologize for idolizing people and things other than you. May we turn back toward you and always faithfully follow you. 

Victorious Lord, you continue to protect and reign over us. Thank you for sending your Son to set us free from all sin and oppression. Let us never forget that you are always beside us. Amen.

C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity: 
We have two bits of evidence about the Somebody [behind the Moral Law]. One is the universe He has made. If we used that as our only clue, then I think we should have to conclude that He was a great artist (for the universe is a very beautiful place), but also that He is quite merciless and no friend to man (for the universe is a very dangerous and terrifying place). 

The other bit of evidence is that Moral Law which He has put into our minds. And this is a better bit of evidence than the other, because it is inside information. You find out more about God from the Moral Law than from the universe in general just as you find out more about a man by listening to his conversation than by looking at a house he has built.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Up and down the hillside

Down the hill and going back up the Dago side
We're a week late but what fun to celebrate Sumathi's birthday at the Bamboo Shack. W and I walk through the Sundanese neighborhood of Ciumbuleuit. The narrow pavement is edged with unequal stairs on one side as it descends the steep hill. Old and young people alike climb past the houses and little shops that spill to the edge of the road.

Motorcycles whiz up and down, some carrying two people on the mountainside. (If you stop, you have to wheel your cycle all the way up. And don't even think of walking it downhill. Brake hold-your-breath brake all the way.)

Small lanes, some barely wide enough for bike handlebars, criss-cross the hillside and descend into the valley. They dump us onto a muddy trail through the jungle. There's a power plant at the bottom of the valley. Water gushes from the drainage gutters above into its sluices and turbines before churching away against the boulders and river rock.

Jungle electrical plant
Then we have to climb back up the other side into Dago. Whew. It is steep. It is steep. My legs don't feel it but my heart is pounding. The neighbors stare at us as we pant our way to the top of the hill and back into the city.

Poinsettia trees tips are red, dieffenbachias uncurl leaf after leaf, and bougainvilleas splash pink and oranges in the yards. In January. Amazing.

Happy Birthday dear friend! Sumathi and Augustine ride the angkot up from downtown. I know that schnitzel (cutlets) is made with chicken, veal, or pork. Yeah, I should have listened to the voice inside my head before ordering. It turns out to be a chewy beef roast covered with breading. The vegetables taste good.

Concealed lipstick holds flowers against the stems
W and I walk back across the valley toward home. The final climb is vertical enough to take my breath away. Luckily W has a bottle of water. A few gulps and we're back on track. Up up and up. We say hi to a few people as we walk through the neighborhood, trying new ways back to the house.

Our new language tutor comes by after supper to set up our first class for Tuesday. Back to work it is. He lives right across the street, much more convenient than the hour-long trip coming and going to school in the fall! The seminary starts Semester 2 of the language course Monday. How fitting.

Read more:
*Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

In that day you will say: "Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you." Isaiah 12:2-6 NIV

*Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? says the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the Lord. Jeremiah 23:24 ESV

*Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8 ESV

*Live as children of light. Ephesians 5:8 NEV
Moravian Prayer: Lord, we know we cannot hide from you. You are everywhere and we are grateful for that. Continue to watch over us and make us true lights to those around us. Our prayer is to spread your light and presence everywhere. Amen.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Wet start to the week

The blur of rain overflows the pond and
pools water in the backyard
"Whatever rain we were deprived of in the last month, here it is." W gets the floor squeegee ready and puts a bucket under the drip in the laundry room. The wind gusts through the louvers into the house, roaring past the drops outside to swing the capri chandelier in the living room.

Jakarta has had flooding in the past weeks but Bandung has been quite dry. Now the drain spouts spit water from the roof for several feet, adding it to the little river that's the ditch in front of the house. Our guppy pond overflows: I exchanged the fish and water today, moving the guppies from the house back to the pond and catching new ones. Hopefully not too many fish get washed into the grass.

When I sit to write, I feel like nothing has gone on in a day or a week. However, my 2015 "word of the year" is steadfastness. Keeping on keeping on can be rewarding. As in,

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know 
that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (James 1:2-3 ESV)

Measuring the slope by touching heads to the ceiling
Sunday, January 18
We get a call in the afternoon: are we up for a quick visit at Reading Lights bookstore with a friend? Sure. I'm not driving much and want to be mobile if we have an emergency. So I drive down the hill. The squeeze between angkots, cars parked in the road, and students strolling near the shoulder makes it an exercise in focus. We get there safely, have coffee and tea, and talk with S.

Something is on the roof. We hear it at night, walking on the tiles. "Just stay on that side, please. Out-side that is." The neighborhood cats prowl on the porch and knock over wood scraps left by the carpenter.

I stay home while W is researching alarm and alert systems for the neighborhood council. He's gone for a few hours, putting 14 km on his shoe soles. He walks down to town and between the tech centers. Before coming home, he drops by the hospital to read and pray with a sick friend.

Water, sun, and warmth. Perfect for plants.
Back and forth go the emails and WhatsApp messages. We're trying to arrange two life groups this week. Seems like there's no great time for everyone so the point persons have to choose a time and place. As many as possible will come.

In the early evening, we visit a neighbor with Dr W translating. Mrs W is moving at the end of the month and has been working night and day to clear things out of the house. She's moving to her home across the valley. I can't believe how much she's accomplished.

"Up until 4 in the morning sometimes," she admits. What a chore. Seems like we just finished wrapping up our house in Seattle.

I'm up by 4:30 and can't get back to sleep. Martha and I talk on the phone. She's calling on Monday night and I am already at Tuesday morning. We discuss our reading assignment (Mere Christianity by CS Lewis), prayer requests, and life lessons.

Ibu A arrives shortly after 8. We have a morning appointment but are back for a delicious lunch at 12:30. At 1, we take the batik purchased two weeks ago and walk with Dr W to meet her neighborhood seamstress. The lanes, some 3' wide, wind between full-sized houses and small dwellings. We recognize a lot of people along the way: we often walked this route toward language school last semester.

Odd little blooms, little mouths of
white blossoms tucked between vibrant leaves
The seamstress brings out her husband's tailored shirt to show Waldemar what is possible. He decides on a pattern to wear to formal events. I'm looking for a long skirt. And Dr W wants a blazer. All possible by the end of the month. Wow.

There's more back and forth about scheduling the life groups as the rain starts. The thunder and lightning are close by. The growl comes and goes for an hour. We're cozy inside except for water in the back hall. The power goes off.

W walks to the neighborhood warung to pick up some freshly-made chicken and rice. We eat by candlelight, marveling at how spoiled we are to have power. When the electricity comes back, the breakers click off and we're in the dark again. W finds water shorting out a connection in the back wing. We leave the power off back there and run a temporary extension cord from kitchen to back fridge. The disruption to the computer means I don't finish an assignment. Ah, lots to do tomorrow then.

Read more:
*The Lord spoke and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. Psalm 33:9 ESV

*See how I love your precepts; preserve my life, Lord, in accordance with your love. All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal. Psalm 119:159-160 NIV

*The centurion answered Jesus, “Only speak the word, and my servant will be healed.” Matthew 8:8 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Creator of everything, we give you thanks. We are blessed by your creation and your healing every day. Thank you for believing in us, broken though we are. Remind us that we are still another part of your wonderful creation. Amen.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Looking for God? Claim to be his follower? Prove it!

God's beauty
We read the Bible together. The 6-month challenge, sent by IESJakarta, is to read the New Testament. Today we looked at John 14 (Day 78). Let me share two observations from this morning:

1. Many people, Christian and not, claim they want to know God. Do we really?

Jesus says something startling, something radical, to his disciples and to us. He claims that we see God the Father when we look at him. He is God in the flesh.

At their last meal together, before Jesus' crucifixion, "Philip (one of his inner circle) said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." 

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves." (John 14:8-11)

The early church affirmed their understanding of God among us. "[Jesus] is the exact representation" of God ..." (Hebrews 1:3) and "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. .... For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." (Colossians 1:15, 19, 20)

God's creativity
So how do we get to know God? We pursue all the ways in which God has revealed himself. The spiritual disciplines are not just for our personal benefit (by becoming more patient and kind, gaining knowledge or wisdom, etc.) but tools to assist our relationship with God. We read and meditate on the scriptures, contemplate his beauty in nature, fast, and pray.

If you're not doing that, do you really care about getting to know God? or is he just a convenient fall-back when life spins out of control or you need more resources?

2. Those who believe demonstrate their faith in their actions. 

Jesus said, "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." (John 14:12)

Did Jesus mean only that powerful, supernatural demonstrations would prove we were his followers? Certainly, Jesus and the apostles of the early Church did miracles. And miracles still happen.

God knows each name
and cares about each story
But what did Jesus actually do? He fed the hungry, healed the sick, and set people free. He promised his help for us to do the same: "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." (John 14:13-14)

Jesus' miracles demonstrated God's care in practical ways, whether he was feeding 5000 hungry people, providing wine at a wedding, or healing a blind man. Let's face it: not all of our efforts are miraculous. But they similarly demonstrate God's compassion and love. We pray for and visit the sick, offer medical treatments, foster community development, fight human trafficking, and support feeding programs. Our hands and feet show God's ongoing love and the work of Christ.

James writes that "faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead," (James 2:17) and "faith without deeds is useless." (James 2:20) If we see hungry people and don't feed them or see someone who needs clothing and don't provide what we can, our claim to belief in Jesus is hollow.

What is Christ's ongoing work? From heaven, he now acts on behalf of his children to provide ongoing reconciliation with God: "There is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people..." 1 Timothy 2: 5-6 He uniquely transforms us as he sends us out to continue his work in the world.

The verse on my mantle
So if my life is wrapped up in selfish pursuits, if I have become consumed by the day-to-day grind, or if I refuse to help others, am I doing what Jesus did? If not, am I truly his follower?

It's hard to write this. I don't want to condemn anyone. But these two things have ground through my mind all day. I hope the questions help you - as well as me - to consider how we are setting our goals and spending our days. A review:
1. Do I really want to know God? If so, in what ways am I getting to know Jesus better?
2. In what ways do my actions demonstrate that I believe in Jesus and am following him?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friends, old and new

Fun getting in the picture together
Tuesday, January 13
Have I been anticipating the day with dread or joy? On the one hand, we really like having people over. On the other, we hardly know what we're doing in this new culture. I'm up part of the night thinking through logistics: we can squish about 30 people in (30-non-floor-sitters). Is everything in place? I give up on sleep and by 6am, the oven is preheating for the French toast casseroles.

Neighborhood security delivers extra seating: 12 chairs from the community center. Ibu W mentioned it would be nice to tip them though it is not expected. We tip. They normally make $6-10/day, so any bonus helps.

Improvised arrangement: a 1' tip of a yard plant
in a bowl found in the garden
About 9, the Bariton bakery motorcycle delivers 36 snack boxes. We ordered 35, but they fit into the bag better with an extra. Each contains 4 little savory or sweet treats and a water cup with a straw. I cut the warm bread, bake the egg casseroles, heat the meat, and set the table. It takes me a lot longer and more energy here. After living in the same Seattle house for 20 years, I knew where everything was. Here, I don't even know what I want half the time. When I look for a small serving bowl, I realize ... oops, I haven't purchased those yet.

Between 10 and 11am, 30 women show up with little packages wrapped in newspaper. They each take a Bariton snack box. Some of them start eating, while others put theirs aside to take home. Providing the snacks was my culture lesson from the last arisan.

Hmm. What is the newspaper thing about? "Untuk tahun baru," they say. Whatever that means. I run into the bedroom to wrap a small gift to add to the stack.

The beautiful colors of my gift scarf
Finally I figure it out. Happy New Year gift exchange! A few women write numbers on each parcel and hand out papers with numbers on them. We're supposed to get the gift corresponding to our number. I draw #13 and am given #2 gift. Somewhere the numbering system breaks down. I twirl around once or twice wearing my bright-hued scarf. It's pretty; something I would get for myself. Near the end, the organizers rush to wrap a gift for a last-minute guest. She explains why she was late but I can't understand much. Sigh. Does she live far away? Work somewhere and couldn't come earlier? I can't tell.

There's a lot of food on the table. Ibu A dropped off cut fruit and her market purchases last night. She arrived at 7am today to cook fried chicken, nasi kuning (yellow rice which is traditional for events and celebrations), and a spicy vegetable dish. It's the first "heat" she's put into our food. The other family she cooks for must hate hot food because she is shocked when we say "Kami suka makanan" (we like it).

Almost done: the women pack up amid goodbyes
My contributions are three home-baked loaves of bread that took all of yesterday to rise and bake, between making other dishes. There's French toast and sausage in gravy. Half a dozen women ask for the recipe. Oh oh. I make it differently each time. This time the Bockwurst was so salty that I added creamed soup, sweet barbecue sauce, and a can of creamed corn to balance the flavors. Of course there were trays of home-baked cookies, too.

Ibu A has cooked a feast. We have leftovers until the women see the plastic food bags on the table. They ask if it's okay to take food home. Of course. That's the custom here. Some take more, some hardly any, but bit by bit the table empties. There's a lot of fruit left over so I freeze some and make a smoothie for Ibu A and me.

The arisan treasurer hands me an envelope of food money. I sign that I've received it and have counted it. The president of the group writes the next month's address in my guest book and many of the women sign their names.

Lunch at Miss Bee's Providor
After the women leave, I snag a plate of food for each of us. W and I haven't eaten. I ask the helper to fill a few bags for herself and her family. We used paper plates and real cutlery and serving dishes, so the helper finishes washing up. She mops the living room floors before hoisting herself and the food bags onto the back of her husband's motorcycle.

In the evening, we met three Seattle leaders who are looking for service projects for their groups. One is an Indonesian expat who knows young professionals in Bandung. We eat a delicious Sundanese meal together with them and four outstanding young people.

Pak Herry demonstrates squatting, Indonesian-style.
Can you do it? Keep your heels on the floor!
In the morning, we meet up again with the three travelers. They've brought a few goodies along that had been delivered to our house in Seattle after Christmas: silicone measuring cups, a mixing bowl grip, and a few tech items for W. Very exciting. (Really.) And very useful.

We have fun together, too. Pak Herry lays down a mean beat that is the traditional rhythm for folk music. He shows the guys how Indonesians can sit on their heels by the hour. Since arriving in Indonesia and walking so much, W can do it, too.

We have lunch at Miss Bee's nearby. The guys walk the neighborhood to pray blessings over people living here. Then we talk about projects by work teams or interns that could benefit the city. By the time they leave in the evening, we feel encouraged about possibilities for partnering together.

After I format and send our "New Normal" photo, it's 11 pm. Time for bed.

I'm up at 3:30, preparing for a 4am conference call with leaders of a women's caucus. Most of them teach or do research in the USA, but a few are in England and elsewhere.

I stay up until Ibu A comes at 8am to clean. "Please do the walls, floors, and surfaces very well. We have to clean up after all the holiday company." I think that's what I communicate.

By 8:30, I'm ready for bed. I sleep until 11:30. We stay in until supper, go for a short walk and end up at Miss Bee's again.

The server asks if I'm Ibu Rosemarie. Eek. How does he know my name? Ah, apparently one of the young men at a pre-Christmas get-together had invited him to our place. The server was working but he promises he'll come along next time if he's free. We talk a bit and then W and I walk home, bemused by the networks all around us.

Graves are oriented with the faces toward Mecca
We plan to attend a concert at the seminary in the morning, but as we're ready to leave, I check the venue with a friend. Oh oh, the concert is another place on another day. So we are dressed and ready to go ... with the morning ahead of us. W is researching alarm systems for the neighborhood council and I've wanted to go to the local bookstore for months.

We walk down the hill, saying hi to the regulars who sit and stand at the sides of the lanes. The paths are so narrow that we have to move aside when motorcycles drive by. Many are not wide enough for cars, through the houses on each side can be big and elegant.

Reading Lights bookstore and coffee shop
Last time we came this way, a frail-looking old man walked through the cemetery path ahead of us. He easily negotiated the uneven steps cut into the muddy hillside, slippery in rainy season. Occasionally bricks or stones are placed as treads. Usually the path is chopped into the slope at whatever pitch is needed: some risers are 24" deep while others are 4-6". We always watch our feet. (We marveled and wondered how many North Americans his age could use the path.)

W leaves me at the bookstore for a few hours. Helen the owner and her assistant sign me up for their insider discount. Oh yes, I'll be back. I find a new novelist and time flies. I like an original painting "Orb" that glitters on the wall ($12). I'm fascinated with the creativity of people, whether in words, sounds, or art, aren't you?

Textured acrylic landscape
A $2 cutlet
W orders lunch at the student food court on our way home, a $2 chicken cutlet. We detour a few times walking back up the long steep hill toward home. Between every few houses, a narrow lane leads to still more homes. We discover a new way across the valley to Dago, the next hill. Maybe next time.

We're asked to contribute to an article for a local paper. The back and forth between text and pictures takes a while. We'll see what they use.

Read more:
*Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

*Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!

Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans 11:33-36 NIV

*If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:20-21 ESV

C. S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain:
   If the world exists not chiefly that we may love God but that God may love us, yet that very fact, on a deeper level, is so for our sakes. If He who in Himself can lack nothing chooses to need us, it is because we need to be needed. Before and behind all the relations of God to man, as we now learn them from Christianity, yawns the abyss of a Divine act of pure giving—the election of man, from nonentity, to be the beloved of God, and therefore (in some sense) the needed and desired of God, who but for that act needs and desires nothing, since He eternally has, and is, all goodness. And that act is for our sakes.

   It is good for us to know love; and best for us to know the love of the best object, God. But to know it as a love in which we were primarily the wooers and God the wooed, in which we sought and He was found, in which His conformity to our needs, not ours to His, came first, would be to know it in a form false to the very nature of things. For we are only  creatures: our role must always be that of patient to agent, female to male, mirror to light, echo to voice. Our highest activity must be response, not initiative. To experience the love of God in a true, and not an illusory form, is therefore to experience it as our surrender to His demand, our conformity to His desire: to experience it in the opposite way is, as it were, a solecism against the grammar of being.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Walks and plans

One reason sidewalks are in poor condition:
motorcyclists use them to get around traffic jams
The new week is starting. We have a big lunch planned Tuesday and American friends will be coming that evening. Tonight, the sun's going down on as the evening prayers ring across the neighborhood. The air is cool at 72o: it will get down to 66o tonight. Brrr.

Wednesday, January 7
The morning session in Jakarta is the final one of the conference. What a great group of coworkers! Four of us "new-to-Indonesia" gals set up a trial accountability group. We'll log in online every few weeks to check that we're on track and pray for each other. We make only a short-term commitment: after 2-3 sessions, we'll evaluate. If it's helpful, we'll keep going.

W and I drive home to Bandung after a quick lunch. It takes only 3 hours for the 80 miles because traffic is quite light. It's wonderful to see the house again. I spray the ant invasion into a twitching death and sleep like a log.

At least, I sleep until almost midnight, when my alarm wakes me for a conference call from Seattle about coaching. Our master coach offers encouragement and reminds us how important a coach can be to people entering a new profession. After we hang up, I can't get back to sleep until 4:30am. 

A grasshopper takes a break on our palm tree
Ibu A comes at 8. I have a headache and am tired, but one of the things we heard at the conference was appropriately relating to helpers. So I get up and give her instructions and money to buy food at the market. (W and I usually do the shopping). When she returns, she notes the purchases in a new notebook, set aside for the purpose. She is a marvelous cook: lunch is chicken, baked potato, bok choy, and - of course, rice.

A friend picks us up in the evening. We're going to the hospital to pray for Ibu V, who has cancer. She's been treated in China and is home again in Bandung. Her daughter and our friend have known each other since they studied in Holland years ago.

Pasar: baskets overhead
Such visits bring back many memories of how friends surrounded us when our daughter K was ill. We appreciated every visit, prayer, and note. Now we can do the same for others.

Afterwards, we go to a gathering of hawker stalls. The server brings a menu for all the shops. I had leftover soup at home just before we left so the surroundings interest me more than the food. Dozens of baskets hang overhead. ("Don't they get dusty? And who lives up there?" Be quiet, my inner German housewife!)

A typical poinsettia tree in the neighborhood
We stay home. I bake 3 loaves of homemade bread. One is for Ibu A's family: the other two are for us - one is supper and the other? How about tomorrow?

Let's hope the instructions to Ibu A are clear. 30 women (potentially) are coming for brunch Tuesday. I've asked Ibu A to go to the market on her husband's ojek (motorcycle) and bring the groceries back. She'll cook yellow rice (a tradition for special occasions), chicken, veges, and cut fruit. We have to start an hour earlier than usual to get everything ready. No cleaning until the ladies leave. Did she get that? 

We'll see. As usual, before an occasion, my head is whirling with details so my body is lazing around. Focus is worse when I'm going across culture and between Google Translate, Bahasa Indonesia, and English.

We miss baby Kamille, who is in Seattle with her parents. They're celebrating her first birthday far from her Indonesia family.

On our Sunday walk, the one-lane road is peaceful...
until it fills up with passing cars and motorcycles...
from this new housing neighborhood. Urban planning, anyone?
The homemade bread makes a good breakfast. We attend church nearby and meet the nicest mom and daughter in the parking lot. They've lived in Vancouver and the daughter recently completed community college in LA. She's home for a semester, waiting for her business program to start in fall. "If that falls through, we know a great business program in Seattle at Northwest University," we say.

The cutest youngster sits next to us on the bus
We change clothing quickly and walk a few miles down the hills and back up. We have a few things to pick up for the lunch we are making Tuesday. And our cable has been blocked for half a month. W finally finds someone in the mall shop who promises to connect it. (Later in the evening we discover that it's connected but we have the wrong subscription. We're not interested in a lot of cooking channels and Bollywood dramas, ok? W will try again. Fourth time lucky? And I don't suppose there's a refund or extension for 3 weeks without service, is there?)

We take an angkot minivan to the hospital to see Ibu V again. She's thinner, having trouble eating. But it's lovely to share scriptures and prayer. Her daughter faithfully is caring for her.

It's a single angkot ride back. W heads down for groceries for tomorrow's baking. He picks up supper at the warung on the next block (noodles for me; rice for him) and we eat about 7pm. 

Temperatures are dropping. So is lizard poop. Right on W's white duvet cover. ugh. He sponges it clean and sighs, "Laundry tomorrow. For sure." Yup.

Read more:
*Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name; worship the Lord in holy splendor. Psalm 29:2 ESV

*Help, O Lord, for there is no longer anyone who is godly; the faithful have disappeared from humankind. Psalm 12:1 ESV

*Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:67–68 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Master and Friend, we promise never to turn our backs on you. We believe you are everything we need. Keep us loyal to you in everything we do. Amen.