Sunday, June 21, 2015

Getting off base

A lorry, partly loaded with bottles and paper for recycling
Saturday, June 20
We get kicked off an army base early in the morning.

"You need permission to be here," says the security guard from his motorcycle. He is not happy to see us. "Go out that way."

We started walking to the Borma store on the next hill about 8:30am.

Last time we came this way, some men pointed us left, onto a narrow path that ran beside the creek. We were still in the woods when we ran out of time and turned around.

This time, there is no one around so we head to the right, around an empty firing range, and up a very very steep road into a neighborhood that looks pretty much like any other middle-class area. An older gentleman is hiking up so we puff uphill alongside him.

He asks, "Where are you from? How many children do you have? How long have you been in Bandung? Where do you live? How much rent do you pay? How long do you plan to stay? How old are you? What are you doing here? Which way are you going?" ... all questions we've come to expect.

Up we go
"This road is much better than the other way," we note to each other. "It's more direct, if steeper. I wonder why the guys pointed us the other way last time."

We find out in a few more minutes. A security guard with an army uniform rides up on his motorcycle. He asks many of the same the questions as the old man. When we tell him we're headed for Borma, he points us downhill. We're sent on a long detour, away from another gate that we suspect is just around the corner and close to the store.

"You must go that way," he is insistent. "Bul├ęs (foreign Westerners) are not allowed here without permission."

We apologize profusely - no harm intended! - and start down the road to the far gate. The guard zooms off.

A few blocks later, several men talk in the shade of their porch. They wave at us and ask similar questions. "Where are you from? Where are you going? What are you doing? How long will you stay?" etc.

We pause to be friendly but stay on the road, facing the way we were told to go. We hear a motorbike behind us.

"This is the Provost of the Army Base," explains the guard from before, pulling up with a frown and pointing to a senior officer on another motorcycle. The men chat with him in Indonesian. They wave us off. We apologize again to the security guard and Provost and continue our walk, this time with the senior official riding beside us (= making sure we don't stop again?)

We walk out through the gates, check the GPS for direction, and stroll along a frontage road to get back up the hill.

How to pave a road
CRASH!!! We look back. An older fellow in uniform has hit a curb and fallen off his motorcycle onto the street. Several young soldiers run across the street from the gate to pick up the man and his bike. We don't wait to see any more: we're already feeling in a grey zone of trouble.

Further along on the hill, two men squat beside black barrels filled with raw asphalt. Near them, two metal sheets sit on emptied drums.

Smoke rises. A fire is burning underneath and the asphalt is melting on top. Ah, so that's how they prepare the paving material. They'll spread the hot topping on the road when it's liquified, like frosting on a cake.

Look out above! at the hardware store
After Borma we have a few more errands. We walk down the hill on a main street with broken curbs, sometimes-sidewalks, and heavy traffic. We scramble out of the way as best we can. We pause to talk to people along the way, finding out what they are doing for Ramadan and practicing our Indonesian. We pray peace on our neighbors and the strangers we pass.

The other day, someone knocked a picture off a ledge and the glass broke. Today we get a replacement. The man at the hardware store slides a metal scraper along a big sheet of glass and snaps it to the perfect width.

The old birdcage is falling apart and needs new bamboo reeds. Our usual shop is being renovated. So we veer onto another road where a different bird seller offers us a clutch of 50 bamboo reeds for 70c.

An old cage and a happy bird
Many people have birds or cats. Dogs are not as popular and a lot of people are afraid of them. Our friend Pauline brought two canaries Friday, replacing one that flew away while we were in Seattle. The birds swing in the wind on our porch, chirping and singing cheer to each other.

Our phones say we've walked 7-8 miles. Our legs aren't sore but we're definitely for desk work when we get back home.

Read more:
*A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken. Proverbs 15:13 NEV

*Upon him was the punishment that made us whole. Isaiah 53:5 ESV

*Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things. Matthew 12:34-35 NKJV

*Christ himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness. 1 Peter 2:24 NKJV

Moravian Prayer: Eternal Savior, thank you for your sacrifice. We are able to live because you died for our sins. May we continue to follow the path of righteousness so that we refrain from going astray.

Lord, when we are hurt, heal our hearts. Help us to share our sorrow with you and to forgive in love as you do. When we do this, the full expression of love becomes evident and you will be able to work through us. In your name we pray. Amen.

From C. S. Lewis in The Problem with Pain:

The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word ‘love’, and look on things as if man were the centre of them. Man is not the centre. God does not exist for the sake of man. Man does not exist for his own sake. 

‘Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created’ [Revelation 4:11]. We were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the Divine love may rest ‘well pleased’. 

To ask that God’s love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God: because He is what He is, His love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled, by certain stains in our present character, and because He already loves us He must labour to make us lovable. We cannot even wish, in our better moments, that He could reconcile Himself to our present impurities—no more than the beggar maid could wish that King Cophetua should be content with her rags and dirt, or a dog, once having learned to love man, could wish that man were such as to tolerate in his house the snapping, verminous, polluting creature of the wild pack. 

What we would here and now call our ‘happiness’ is not the end God chiefly has in view: but when we are such as He can love without impediment, we shall in fact be happy.

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