Saturday, June 13, 2015

Sorrow amid studies and celebration

Last night, our helper's family buried her mother-in-law. IbuA lost her own mother 3 months ago. What sadness for the family. We pray for them - the children who are grown and the rest of the family who will be missing their beloved Oma. Our hearts break when these older souls pass into eternity.

A glance back from a building site in Dago: we live on the other side
Thursday, June 11
In the morning, W meets the guys for breakfast. Then he and I walk across the steep hillsides to the top of Dago, where we meet Riga and Sumathi. We are reading Mark 1 together. The chapter is crammed with things we haven't thought about for a long while. Many of the ideals of scripture seem puzzling to a newcomer but the questions spark a great appreciation and worship in us old-timers. It takes us more than an hour to explore these insights and more:

  • 600 years before it happened, the prophet Isaiah wrote that John the Baptist would introduce Jesus. Mark 1 tells how it happened.
  • The message of Jesus is Good News (gospel), explained in the 4 histories by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
  • The Trinity is present at Jesus' baptism: The Father delights in the Son and the Spirit descends on Jesus to empower and affirm the Son. God in his fullness is an all-present unity.
  • The Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness where he is challenged by temptation - and the angels serving Jesus afterward. Hard times come to all but we are not forsaken.
  • The baptism in the Spirit is promised as a gift from Jesus; how lovely the fulfillment in Acts 2.

W and I walk back across the hill to home. (Above, a steep staircase going up and looking back to the garbage dump. We love to talk to people and to pray as we walk. It's hot outside - it takes a while to cool off when we pause or arrive.

Our daughter calls to wish W a good day. She's on her way to Korea and in spite of a few travel hiccups, she and her friend arrive safe and sound. We pray that MERS stays far from them.

In the evening, W's off to meet with several men for a post-supper dessert.

It's W's birthday. We study language and read together overlooking the garden before walking a few blocks to a lovely breakfast at Miss Bee Providor. Hardly anyone is there so we choose a table outside, under a canopy. We can't get over the beautiful weather in Bandung. This morning it's a refreshing 73F (22C). The breeze quickly cools our food.
Birthday breakfast
I need to pay the rest of my arison dues so I walk to the neighbor. The vacuum is running and no one comes to the door. I push the envelope under the door and head home.

Three women are chatting nearby. They call me over to offer me tea and rojak = peanut sauce over vegetables or fruit - in this case, pineapple, jicama, and cucumber. They show me the plan for the community garden and extended parking at the end of our block.

A relaxing garden
"I thought that they were making a parking lot beside our gate," I am puzzled.

"When there are weddings or special events, we have nowhere to park. This also will help. And the gazebo we plan is for when we have guests and want to meet outside to visit or eat."

We are blessed with a porch but many homes nearby do not have a green space. The neighbors are contributing to the cost and we are asked to do the same. The organizer shows me several receipts so I know appropriate amounts to give. I promise to take the material home to show W.

W and the driver work together on some projects while I bake a birthday cake. We haven't tried local cake mixes so I'm on my own. I pour sweetened condensed milk into a few slashes made with a little knife. (Thanks for the idea, Rebekah!) I pour a homemade mango sauce over and top it with Nestle's chocolate morsels (a gift from Canyon Creek - thank you!)

Dear friends Augustine and Sumathi
We take it to Augustine and Sumathi's for supper. Their Sunda helper has cooked a birthday feast: Rendang and a Sundanese chicken dish. Sumathi has added an apple cobbler that is delicious. We are so full - heart and tummy - when we return home.

We make a quick stop at the local grocery store but they say we have to come back tomorrow: they are out of chicken. Whaaaat? We never know what to expect.

When Ibu A comes, we find out that her mother-in-law passed away and was buried yesterday. Burial happens within a day. Many neighbors knew this lady because she worked for years at a nearby household; her family has lived on the hill for generations.

We promise to pray for the family and text a friend for cultural information. Josie says it's appropriate for us to give a gift to buy flowers or food. There are so many things we don't know about the culture, but bit by bit we are learning. IbuA cooks a Sunda chicken soup before we send her home to be with her family.
Sundanese chicken soup
It's a study and reading day. We have prepare classes and talks for the future. I try for my obligatory hour of Indonesian TV. It's not inspiring to watch shows that I can't understand, but gradually the sounds and meanings are becoming clearer.

In the afternoon, four men arrive to repair the stove. (Why? The insulation has been taken away by rodents. Its wiring is partially disconnected. The light and igniters are not working. The oven temperature is unstable and limited.)
How many men does it take to repair an oven?
They haul it to the driveway and clean and take it entirely apart, finishing as it's getting dark, before 6pm. W watches and chats, acquiring language and finding out how the appliance works. If it breaks again, maybe he can fix it.

My heart is heavy, thinking of the family mourning just down the side of the mountain.

Read more:
*O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. Psalm 30:2 ESV

*On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples. Isaiah 11:10 ESV

*Simeon said, “My eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” Luke 2:30–32 ESV

*Pray for one another, so that you may be healed. James 5:16 ESV

Moravian Prayer: O great Physician, we turn to you in prayer for our physical and spiritual wounds. Bless and comfort us as we heal and teach us to pray for the healing of others.

Merciful Savior, we are your disciples today. May we work in your kingdom and spread your word through the power of the Holy Spirit. We work to increase the number of believers throughout the world, so that all may know their Creator. Amen.

C. S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity: Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods ‘where they get off’, you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habit of Faith.

The first step is to recognise the fact that your moods change. The next is to make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious readings and churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed.

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