Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A lot of hot water and laughter

Indonesia is beautiful.
Our waterfall destination:
Cibareubey in Cibeusi
I'm glad the dishes are washed. After 3 hours of kitchen cleanup on Tuesday and 5 hours on Wednesday, only a final few dirty escapees sit in the kitchen sink this morning.

Normally, our household help takes care of dishes in the morning, so I can visit with company. However, local workers are off for the week. They're hosting end-of-Ramadan celebrations with their families. During Ramadan, women get up at 3am to cook so their families can eat by 4:30. The gals are exhausted and everything has moved more slowly for a month.

I'm reluctant to use disposable plates: they create huge bags of garbage and we don't have waste pickup at our place. We've been dropping our trash in our old house's garbage bin for pickup but the family co-leasing that place returns this weekend. Our helper drops the garbage over the wall into the jungle. UGH. It's an ugly truth about the city: there's garbage everywhere. Baggies and wrappers get dropped on the ground so there's a lot of litter. As stewards of God's earth, we try to minimize our addition to the problem.

Bundas have arranged to meet a family here for supper (= 3 families around the table - guests, upstairs team, and us). We're eager to get to know this couple and their two kids. The wife works at a local school and the husband manages Compassion International - a Christian organization helping children thrive. Check out their website. 

Eyes on the crowded and chaotic roads,
what a blessing Pak Asep is to us.
They arrive after work at 7pm. What troopers! Luckily supper is ready, beef rendang with veges and rice. Laura's made dessert cookies and brings little jello cups to finish off the meal.

The kids head upstairs together (thank you God for a house with space!) while the adults talk about aspects of children's work. I listen in on the conversation from the kitchen sink. (We're getting up early tomorrow and I'm too tired to get up at 6 to wash dishes - or stay up until midnight.) I pull on rubber gloves and think: "Today I will choose "Martha." Someone has to cook and clean so people have something to eat. But Jesus was right - Mary's part of the story is better if you have the choice. Hanging out and listening is a lot more fun."

Our normal Thursday walk comes a day early: Thursday starts the holiday celebrations for the end of Ramadan. Drivers, helpers, and locals will head to their families all over Indonesia so social and ministry events are changed or limited whenever possible. Stores and tourist attractions are closed or on limited hours.

One of many vistas on our walks
Sumathi and Bridget arrive early at the house so we can drive together. We meet the others nearby at 8. W comes with us but he gets sore feet from standing (which also makes shopping together a pain).

We're a small group today
with most members traveling
It's worth the hike among pauses. After 20 minutes of steep uphill on slippery (dusty) soil, we enjoy a fairly level walk. Off and on, I swat at huge wasps that buzz me. They seem attracted to my wide-brimmed maroon sunhat.

Smoked palm sugar juice poured from a natural pitcher
Huge ferns unfolding
Our destination: a tall waterfall that plunges into a gorge and drains off into fields and streams down the valley. Tea plantations stretch along the hillsides. Mountain boulders and makeshift bamboo bridges span the creeks.

Wind-tousled but going strong on the
bamboo steps cut into a dirt hillside
Our shoes get wet on the on-again, off-again path along a clear stream; sometimes little stepping stones and a crumbling concrete walkway are all that lie between the stream and the drop-off on the other side.

Step over the chasm (where the slope falls away)
from the trail onto a make-shift bridge.
Then step back up and carry on.
In another spot, the bridge was rolling
lengths of bamboo, loosely lashed together
Angela is our tour guide. She's traveling back to Germany soon and has appointments in the city so she takes the dog back with her when we're dusty and done.

We take a chance on an old hot spring that turns out to be recently renovated. We eat a late lunch and soothe our tired feet for an hour on the way home.

It's 5pm when we get back to the house. Oh, oh, our guests are due in an hour. I toss the walking poles in a corner and throw our dirty clothes into the hamper. Off to the kitchen at once!

Bundas text us from town. Do we need anything? "Yes please, do bring back more ground beef and chicken and sausages." Apparently 20-ish people are coming tonight. Friends and friends of friends. Perfect. One of the gals from our walking group will bring her husband and son.

The Bundas stand in a grocery checkout that Paul notes is "like Christmas Eve." Everyone's shopping for Idul Fitr.

W sets up the projector for movie night and fires up the barbecue. He's testing his Weber grill for the first time ($50 used, found in Singapore). I've got the hamburgers, sausages, and serving plates ready for him. The cheese doesn't melt but curls up on the burgers when heated. It's nice to do part of the cooking outside and the smoke keeps the mosquitoes at bay.

Bridget changes into one of my blouses (Canadian mauve or light purple - it's your color, B!) and digs in with meal prep. She says she enjoys housework (!) and is a big help. Meanwhile, Pak Asep takes Sumathi home and comes back through awful traffic to hang out with the other young people arriving for the evening.

By the time everyone gets here, the table is groaning with 2 kinds of rice, vegetables, a salad bar, bread, fixings for hot dogs and burgers, and a spontaneously created egg-bread-sausage quiche. W prays over the meal and everyone digs in. (I bag the scanty leftovers for guests during cleanup.)

By 8:15, W starts The Princess Bride, tonight's movie. It's a success - but intermission is hilarious. W had purchased packets of seasoning for French fries. He decides to try one out as popcorn flavoring with a "new method," for which he snags our best stainless mixing bowl. I'm reluctant from the outset: burning the bowl on the gas stovetop seems a distinct possibility.

Yup, the whole thing goes up in smoke and stinks up the house. Oven mitts, measuring cups, and wrappers are strewn over the countertop. A fan purges the air and I resort to making popcorn the old way, tidying as I go.

Goofing around. The only shot with (at least part of) everyone in it.
Except for two hitches. I try the seasoning sprinkled on popcorn that's laced with peanut oil and melted butter. The fine powder evades the lid as I shake it to mix, causing the entire kitchen crew (2 guys who've taken over popping the popcorn, plus Bridget and me) to choke and cough. We get the popcorn to the table and

... hack, hack. Whoever eats the popcorn is coughing! When the powder hits the upper palate, it travels up the nose and down the throat - and the person starts to cough. Everyone tries it a few times. Bridget and I, standing in the kitchen together, seize up with laughter every time someone starts to cough. It helps to be relaxed as a host - you never know what's going to happen.

Including the second glitch. The popcorn maker begins to come apart. We could only find one popcorn maker in town - at ACE Hardware. Today the popcorn maker melts and the chimney separates, tossing kernels onto the floor and into the bowl. (Refunds are reluctantly given, if ever. Let's see if ACE will replace this thing. We have enough company to serve popcorn fairly often.)

"I thought maybe you had trick popcorn," one guy exclaims. Nope, wouldn't do that to our guests! but it turns into a huge joke. Everyone exclaims at the good flavor and resists my tossing it out. We make a few more batches of plain popcorn with butter, salt, and sugar. Laura's cookies are a hit. By this time, the room has warmed up and people are laughing and talking.

One last shot before saying goodbye
The group settles back to watch the rest of the movie. After introductions all around, Waldemar prays a blessing of peace over them and their families. They hang around until nearly midnight.

While W drives two guests home, Paul and Laura take the porch furniture back outside. Laura kindly vacuums the LR before heading upstairs.

I finish drying my hands as W walks back in the door. Table cleared. Check. Kitchen floor washed. Check. Dishes put away. Check. Hands wrinkled. Check. Definitely time for bed.

Read more:
*Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. Psalm 146:3 ESV

*From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.  He said: "In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me.

"I said, 'I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.' The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever.' 
But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit. When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. 

"Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God's love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, Salvation comes from the Lord."

And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. Jonah 2:1-10 NIV

*Jesus said, “If one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” Matthew 15:14 ESV

Moravian Prayer: God of light, so many times we reject your ways and seek comfort in earthly treasures. Help us, gracious One, to see your way and your light. Amen.


  1. Sounds like you are doing well adapting to local culture. :) sending food is also Filipino culture and practiced no matter where they are around the world :)