Saturday, February 21, 2015

Why does every word sound the same?

Lina quizzes me on life in a foreign country
We'll speak together in Indonesia for the first time this Sunday morning. In English. It's a strange process, this gathering of God's work and words into a presentation. More about that later.

Lent began on Wednesday. Every day requires its own discipline to write a post at the Simple Life blog.

The backyard is once again filled with construction debris. "I'm finished," declares the handyman, after replacing the roof tiles above the leaking hallway with corrugated metal sheets. Plastic lunch baggies, a scrap pile of rotted wood, and bamboo scaffolding clutter the driveway and back yard. Ok, so who is going to carry away the garbage?

A welcome diversion: our niece calls from Edmonton. She has to interview intercultural workers. "Call an organization? No way. I'm calling my aunt." We have a lively Q&A. She's a smart cookie and great writer.

Friday, February 20:
Guru Josie, we've MISSED you! One of our language school tutors from last semester comes for our first session. She reviews the material Pak B gives us on Tuesdays, conversing with us and correcting our pronunciation. We realize how much we've forgotten from what we knew in class.

We constantly need to use vocabulary and structure to make the language our own. It's easier to decipher the action as we watch TV though. I find a favorite Korean drama translated into Indonesian. That helps keep my attention from wandering but I often have a headache from focusing and trying to understand. I keep Google Translate open on my laptop.

After two hours of language tutoring, W heads downtown. My shoes are on, my phone is in my pocket, and ... I just don't have the energy to walk out the door. So I take off my shoes, put down my phone and sunglasses, and get out my language books. I write a weekly "New Normal" caption for a strange photo (see the frog below) and develop an outline for our talk for the church bulletin.

It takes an hour to draw a hot bath: the shower head slowly drips lukewarm water into the tub while 10-12 kettles of hot water heat up. I have two pots running on the induction burner: as soon as one boils, I pour it into the tub while the other pot goes on the burner. As I write, it occurs to me: I could heat 4 pots on the stove at the same time and make it faster. (Ah, my brain is truly on under-drive if I just realized that, after living here 6 months. Sigh.)

W's back with 10,000 steps on his FitBit. (I have 300 on mine.) He brings a crispy pizza from Miss Bee's. It's Italian-style thin crust with limited toppings. But it is pizza-like and that's a good thing when my head is buzzing with words like menggunakan (to use), membeli (to buy), and melihat (to look). Don't even get me started on pernikahan (wedding/marriage), pembantu (helper), and pelayan (waiter). Or beristirahat (to rest), berkumpul (to meet together), or berasal (where you come from).

Our New Normal: A real bullfrog transformed.
Need a 12" nightlight anyone?
I can't always place words onto my tongue in the moment. And if W jumps in with the right one, my brain goes into a total scramble and then blanks out. (It's like zapping my circuits with electricity and shutting down the system.) Language acquisition is a slow process. How frustrating to have had a snapping memory and now to have almost none!

W and I always have a rocky start to joint presentations. This time, he asked me to come up with an outline while he works on a talk for Northwest University. As we read the passages during devotions, three points jump out at me. I put them on paper and hand him a copy for discussion.

"What am I supposed to do with this?" he asks, glancing at the page. "This isn't the way my mind works."

Haha. That's always the problem, no matter who takes the lead. He and I process information so differently. I immediately draw a big picture of where we're going, while he begins to analyze the pieces and sort them into categories. The broad scope emerges for him as a result of research, while I zoom in on a general target and build steps toward it. I gather resources and plug in details on the way.

W and I sort and scramble and sift. We have a script in the end, working out who will say what. It gets smoother and smoother and finally lays flat on the page, settles in our heads, and rolls off our tongues. It helps to be surrounded by prayers.

The morning has started by the time Ibu A arrives at 8. The oven is heating, which we don't take for granted. (Most households have a stovetop only.) In our new surroundings, baking is considered a noun, something to be picked up from a bakery, rather than a verb, something to be done.

Most locals don't bake much at home. Frying? Oh yes! Everything is fried. I finally bought oil-gathering sheets to soak up the cooking oil in our foods. Ibu A slips a sheet under the freshly fried rice, fried chicken, fried noodles, and fried "you-name-it" before transferring it to a serving bowl.

Anyhow, when the oven is hot, I bake a loaf of bread. W and I read our "talk" together in preparation for the Sunday service and eat hot bread and cheese, a luxury item from the expat supermarket. I leave 1/3 of the small loaf on Ibu A's counter. By the time we return from our meeting, it's almost gone.

"Roti enak," she tells me, a big smile on her face. [= Good bread.]

Hard at work to run a harmonious neighborhood
The meeting is our second attendance at the monthly neighborhood council. Water, garbage (a new composting program) and traffic are on the agenda. Last month the leaders also mentioned security concerns. "How do we find out what we could do to inform security when something is going on?"

The security guys come by a few times each night, rapping a stick against the metal poles and fenceposts to announce that they're on the job. We don't even hear that any more, but it was startling at first to wake to the clang clang clang on our gate at 1, 3, or 4am. How could they be informed if a thief is on the roof or we have an emergency?

I had mentioned that W's a tech and gadget whiz; perhaps he would be willing to assemble some basic info for them. (He'd gone to another errand at that point last month.) Today, W comes prepared with handouts of options and prices. The parameters are helpful in the discussion. One of the things we love about Indonesians is how resourceful and gracious they are as a society. They appropriate and appreciate shared information and resources.

I am surprised to hear that I also had volunteered to lead an English class for them. (I do vaguely remember agreeing that if someone wanted to learn English, I'd be happy to help.) Only one person has indicated interested in a class. Whew. But they think it might be fun to meet monthly at the community center for English conversation. Could we help them by speaking English? Of course. Someone mentions that maybe every other month they would speak only bahasa Indonesia so we could learn their language.

"Maybe one-on-one would help more for that," another suggests. When we get back after our travels, several of us will talk about practicalities.

We find out that we'll miss the neighborhood's 50th Anniversary Celebration in March. We're so disappointed! What an important milestone for our neighbors. The Indonesian government established Kompleks LIPI to consolidate efforts to develop and promote a national program of scientific research and development. The best minds in the country came together - and many of them still live here. We appreciate our brilliant neighbors and they've extended a warm welcome to us.

W and I drive to a few furniture stores. We're back by 6pm, which gives me time to nap before a conference call to Seattle. The credentialed women on the Hangout refresh my heart and set me back on track. Thank you, ladies! I squish the ants that climb onto the desk and into the arms and legs of my pyjamas as we talk.

It's almost 2 a.m. when I get back to bed. Two security guards clatter by in the deep night. Prayers appreciated for the upcoming presentation. Thanks!

Read more:
*I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don't turn away from me, or I will die.

Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I run to you to hide me. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. Psalm 143:5-10 NLT

*Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations. Psalm 100 NKJV

*We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 2 Thessalonians 1:3 NEV

Evening Prayer: Dear God, let our hearts rest in you as we look back on the day and forward to the night. Whatever the changes and transitions, let us turn time and time again toward you, never away. Give us the confidence to come to you with our requests. We are grateful to belong to your family and that you hear our prayers. With our thanks we honor you. Amen

No comments:

Post a Comment