Thursday, January 1, 2015

15 years after the millennium scare...

15 years ago, media hype predicted the end of the world. Computers would fail. Data would be lost. Catastrophic electronic shutdowns might signal the start of WWIII or life in the dark. Yet here we are in 2015.

Dr H's house filled with laughter and friendship
One of the most reassuring passages in scripture says that Jesus sustains the universe, down to the last detail. That means we don't fear "end of the world" scenarios. It won't be over until God says so. He is in control, powerful enough to tame nature to his will:

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, 
visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- 
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
[Jesus] is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17)

We've had a busy ending of the last year and a very sweet beginning of the new. God is holding all things together so our hearts are at peace.

Sunday, December 28

We get word of Air Asia's lost flight as we are on our way to church. All the breath goes out of us in shock.

We read the list of passenger and crew names on our phones. We're walking to an Indian restaurant with 4 Indian friends. Surely families haven't been notified yet. All week, we and our friends will listen to updates. Pray for families. Ask God that people turn toward him for comfort rather than away in blaming and despair. We hear that 40 passengers were Christians on a service trip. Oh Lord.

The groaning brunch table at Dr H's
Monday, December 29
W and I walk to Dr H's house nearby, where her friends have gathered for a post-Christmas brunch. Dr H is hospitable. The variety and selection of dishes keeps growing as guests arrive. Soon the table is full. We begin with casseroles, Vietnamese spring rolls, and Indonesian dishes and end with desserts, including vanilla and coffee-raisin ice cream. 

While W and Dr H's husband talk in the courtyard, about 15 or 20 women visit in the living room. They are teachers, professors, businesswomen, and artists. Some women have active careers and some are retired. I finally get to put faces with names, including the owner of the bookstore-gallery where we found artwork last month. It's inspiring to listen to the history of friendships between the ladies. Some have lived in Indonesia for 40 or 60 years and most are fluent in Bahasa Indonesia.

We meet Dr H's children again, having first shaken hands at the Baptist church yesterday. What an interesting morning. What a nice family.

Delicate beauty
Tuesday, December 30
When the sun comes up at 6, life is already buzzing around Bandung. People head to work, the neighbors' roosters crow, the cats yowl, and the motorcycles rev up. We rarely sleep in. This morning I cook hot muesli for breakfast. Our helper arrives promptly at 8.

About 9:30, Dr H comes by with her sister and a friend. Traffic congestion is no hindrance to Ibu I, who seems unfazed as she negotiates her car through the narrow roads to Dago. Ibu I loves orchids and offers to show us her collection. She is becoming an expert grower. Her three corgis protest our arrival but she shoos the jumpers outside to the courtyard where they trot back and forth. The youngest is blind but runs around the yard and digs in the flower beds like any other corgi would.

Dozens of orchids shelter under shade-cloth or hug bark strips that dangle from metal gridwork. Stunning spikes give us an inkling of the variety Ibu I collects. Some orchids need daily care; others are less needy. All are beautiful in bloom. Her gardening books are marked with acquisitions. My green thumb itches! and my eyes can hardly believe the details of the flowers.

In a corner of Eden
The Dago golf course is near the house, stretching up a steep valley and straddling the ridges of two hills. Only the greens are level. What a workout! Golfers seem focused and hard at work as we drive the upper perimeter of the course. Ibu I points out homes her architect husband is renovating and noteworthy homes.

Before noon we arrive at Ibu R's house at the top of the Dago ridge. It is a miniature Garden of Eden. full of palms, vines, gardenias, roses, fruit trees, and herbs like lemon grass, a basil hedge, and thyme plants overflowing their pots. And she's a fellow orchid-lover. I get tired of hearing myself exclaim over the specimens thriving in the cooler breezes. I can't help it: with tall trees shading the garden overhead, it's the perfect microclimate ... with a devoted gardener in attendance.

A 3-foot spray of orchid beauties
The ladies speak Dutch, Bahasa, and English. It's a good chance to listen to conversation: often people want to try their English on us. It reminds me of when our families get together with a similar mix of English and German. Ibu R prepares soup with squid, fish balls, spinach, peas, and bean sprouts in chicken broth. Delicious - so we all have a second helping.  I still feel full from yesterday's feast at Dr H's. Another friend, Ibu H, arrives as we're almost finished. She's allergic to squid so has to skip the soup, but she eats sticky rice smoked in bamboo and dessert with us.

About 2:30pm, we head home. Elvis croons on the radio and the ladies sing along. The three women, all with similar names starting with H, come in briefly when they drop me off: they want to see the 5' Good News wreath in our living room and they admire the batik hanging from Dr H. 

Meanwhile, W heads to town and finds that artificial Christmas trees are now 70% off. He texts pictures of the limited selection. We agree on a pre-lit one, which he brings home. He sets it up in the stairwell above the living room, a pretty backlight for the movie night coming up.

An inviting entry
Dr W from across the street comes by to ask if I want to walk over to Ibu W's house; apparently she is outside gardening so perhaps we can view her place. We need to move, her house is nearby, and it will soon be vacated. I really want Waldemar along (oh so many Ws and H's today!) but he's not back from town. 

We sit down on Ibu W's back porch. She and her husband move during the next few weeks so she prefers not to show the house. I ask a few questions about its condition, the furniture that would remain (unknown at this point), and any problems we should be aware of. There are little termite droppings under a rattan sofa: Ibu W says they spray at the first sign of termites in the structure, at which the bugs "disappear." Hmmmm. They have ants in the kitchen (as do we) and fruit bats compete for the harvest of their many trees. 

She's planning to take at least half her potted plants with her (a good thing) and utilities are about double what we pay now. Lots of details will have to be worked out before we'd shift. We can come again in mid-January once they've moved most of their things out. At that point we may also take pictures. I put my camera-phone away.

Ibu Ada models how to
wear a sarong and scarf
Wednesday - New Year's Eve
Dr W comes by before 9 to walk us to her friend, who is named Adeline (like my mom's). Ibu Ada's specialty is community development. She has built up a thriving factory that executes her batik designs and provides income to villagers. Her dyes are mostly organic and plant-based and her patterns are unique.

Dr W explains: "Suits are too hot for our climate, so batik takes the place for formal occasions." Waldemar finds a great piece of fabric for a formal shirt.

I find a few fabrics which Ada promises to hold for a few days and take home a lovely silk sarong and scarf.

We tidy up a bit when we get home before jumping in the car and heading to Yogya grocer. We don't know how many guests to expect but have several cancellations during the afternoon. After loading up, we stop for a quick soup at Kolony food court. Then it's time to cook. By the time I've got 4 breads rising (2 for pizza dough), sausages cooked in gravy, and cookies set out, it's mid-afternoon. Time for a nap soon? I'm getting tired.

Except, "Yahoo. Ist Waldemar in? Ist Waldemar itu?" the voice persists at the gate. W opens the door and ushers in Mrs. B. This Swiss-German expat has lived in Indonesia for 40 years. She trained as a landscape artist and horticulturist in Berlin when she was young. Recently widowed, she's moved into a friend's house nearby. We have tea and cookies together but I get up after 5 to resume cooking. She waves goodbye around 5:30 and I dive into our room for a brief snooze.

Holiday greetings from the kids
By 7, we're up and finishing preparations for guests who arrive about 8:30. We're a small group - 6 of us. The movie is A Walk in the Clouds, accompanied by popcorn and ginger tea (Dr W's contribution). Intermission gives us time to munch on pizza and talk.

And afterwards, what a sweet time. As midnight rolls around, we choose verses I've printed on cardstock tags and read them aloud. Each of us chooses a significant promise and blessing. We feel deeply touched, reflecting on what we wish we could have done better and what we accomplished in 2014. 

Firecrackers explode across the hillside as we share our hopes for the New Year. It's so noisy! We pray around the circle to request God's favor and help in 2015. Finally, Waldemar speaks a blessing over us:

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and keep you; 
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

Crepes in process
What a special beginning to the year. Sumathi and Augustine help clean up. Most of the dishes are done as we fall exhausted into our beds in the wee hours of the morning.

Thursday: Happy New Years everyone!

Sumathi and Augustine have slept over. By 10:30, we're drinking coffee and tea and eating crepes. W and I bought lingonberry preserves at IKEA and have been saving it for a special occasion. This would be it! With whipped cream, the crepes and apple pastries Sumathi found are a treat. Fresh fruit and home-baked bread from last night completes the meal.

Farewell to the Christmas season,
before the decorations come down
I walk our friends to the angkot and wave goodbye. Then it's back home to pack up Christmas trees and decorations. We pull the festive tablecloth from under the protective glass of the dining table and toss it in the wash. The lace comes off the nails sticking out of the living room walls for laundering, too.

While the washing machine swishes the dust and dirt away, W and I watch Eat, Pray, Love. We've heard so many positive things about it. But we are mystified about why people think it's a great movie. The scenery is pretty, the food looks interesting, and we like to travel. But what a confused and conflicted theme. A woman leaves two lovers behind and ends up in a relationship with a stranger in Bali? Hardly a good role model for viewers. Jesus said life was more than food and clothing. The self-centered and self-destructive quest for "god as me" should send shock waves through anyone calling themselves a follower of God.

W and I tug the metallic threads straight in the damp table cloth. I hang it to dry, along with  the bedding and lace, pulling the drying rack into the kitchen which has better air flow. By 10, we're in bed and before midnight, the blog is written.

Our love and wishes for a great year to you and yours.


  1. I was pleasantly surprised when you mentioned that some of your acquaintances were speaking Dutch. Have they lived there their whole lives? There were some people with a mix of Dutch/Sunda decent who stayed after the "Bersiap", but not many. All of my grandfather's family accept one sister left. Thank you for sharing Colossians 1:16, 17 it is a good reminder for things that have happened in 2014 and for whatever may come our way. Tuhan memberkati Anda

    1. There are many Dutch-speakers here. A lot of young people go to study in the Netherlands or other parts of Europe. The older people learned Dutch under the colonial government or afterwards to gain advantages in work and school.

    2. I was curious if any of them were actually like my mother, Indonesian and Dutch mixed.