Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"Up, up with people" (anyone remember that song?)

Avery celebrates her 23rd birthday
Tonight our hearts are overflowing. We've spent two of three days with expats who serve in Indonesia. We're all doing unique work. Most of us are new to the country, first learning the language and culture.

Monday, January 5
We've been looking forward to this day for over a month. The director and his wife have flown in from the Philippines. The Indonesian committee is meeting to help us new arrivals acclimate to Indonesia. We have dinner at Applebees, newly opened in a mall in Jakarta. It's a bit surreal to eat American-style food; we seldom have burgers or Caesar salad here.

We are a very noisy bunch. We celebrate coworker Avery's 23rd birthday. The restaurant staff sings an enthusiastic and off-key ditty and we all cheer.

Getting ready to eat together
The entire back section is filled with new friends from oldest to youngest. The children are very good: they run and play together between eating. In Indonesia, the nanny follows the children around to feed them. Locals don't seem to understand that a child can be corralled in a chair and fed in one location. The Americans capture their kids, feed them, and then let them play.

Jakarta feels less traditional than Bandung. There are a lot more expats. People's clothing is more Western, their attitudes more modern, and their speech and manners are more abrupt. It's easy to see why these urbanites consider Bandung a small town rather than a big city (though it has over 7 million people). In some ways, Bandung feels like a collection of villages. People are connected to each other and look out for their friends and neighbors. We miss Bandung the minute we leave it: we've fallen in love with the people and the city.

A kind mentor and friend
I'm awake at 4am, thinking through the brunch planned for 30+ women at our house next Tuesday. Chairs - do we have enough? (Nope! During the day I text Dr W who arranges for security guards to pick up extra seating from the community center. She sends us their phone numbers so we can call them on the day.) What will I cook? I organize a mental list of foods that can be prepared by 9am. Will the older ladies need help negotiating our steps? Maybe W can help them get up and down to the front door. Etc.

My phone battery is almost dead so I can't listen to the scriptures which often comfort me as I begin to rest. I stuff earplugs in my ears instead and fall back asleep for another hour.

The hotel cafeteria serves a good breakfast. W loads up while I choose a little rice porridge and half an omelet. I'm still full from the American-sized portion last night. Katie joins us with a cup of coffee. One of the delights of being here is seeing the passion and tender hearts of the young interns. They're quicker to pick up language, careful observers, and enthusiastic about ministry and community development.

Asian lights
Some of today's speakers have lived in Indonesia for a decade or more. They provide insights into power distance (who's boss and underling), making donations (carefully, through local organizations), and how to train, teach, and engage with respect. An Indonesian leader reminds us that we are not here to make up our own agenda. For maximum benefit to locals, we must respect and partner with existing charities and projects.

For lunch, we go downstairs to Pesto, an Italian restaurant. My half-plate of salad with a few pear slices and a taste of Gigi's pizza takes me through the afternoon. (Boosted by a few cups of tea in my Contigo thermos, of course.) We break into groups late in the afternoon, sharing what we've found surprising about living here. It's reassuring to hear that others sometimes feel as unbalanced and topsy-turvey in their "new normal" as we do. The veterans remember their first year being the same. We are cautioned to focus on our strengths, not to compare ourselves to others, and to seek God's guidance as we settle down.

Supper in a Thai restaurant provides the backdrop for conversation that is warm and friendly, loud and cheerful. Afterwards, we hug a few people goodbye (early returns home) and say "see you tomorrow" to others.

Genius food warmer, fueled by 2 tealights
W and I are looking for a Brabantia food warmer like the one W found at Christmas. Though we're becoming accustomed to cold food, we prefer to serve heated food hot! And we have lots of guests. We head into the mall, find the warmer, and arrive in our room just before 10pm.

Our income record shows up in our email today. Donations sometimes take a few weeks to be recorded so we don't always know right away when a gift is sent. How grateful we are for the year-end giving entrusted to us. We couldn't be here without generous and faithful partners! W and I thank God at the end of the day. He is Good.

The day has flown by. We've learned a lot and spent hours among fine people with big hearts. A success, I'd say. W's asleep already and another long day lies ahead. Time for bed.

Read more:
*Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. Psalm 118:5 ESV

*O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I'm far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! Psalm 139:1-6 NLT

*Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Matthew 6:12 NKJV

*In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. Ephesians 1:7 ESV

*You are God’s own people in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Light of the world, thank you for responding to us in our time of need. We declare ourselves to your holy way. Help us respond to others and proclaim your amazing grace.

Heavenly Father, you who are unseen are able to see all. Forgive us for forgetting that you know what we need before we can even ask. Keep our hearts open to sharing your forgiveness with the world. Thank you, Lord. Amen.

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