Thursday, July 9, 2015

Finding our footing

You know things are not as they once were ...

... when you're glad to stay home in the evening. W's meeting some men in town; I'm happy to be resting after a 4-hill walk this morning.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015
We finally connect with our American friends in Singapore. We've finished our errands and decide to try once more to text that we're in town.

In Singapore, even restaurant promotions come with rules!
Our phones are on the blink. We get 2 messages: one from our friends, asking us to meet at 10 (it arrives at 11) and another from a store in Bandung, telling us about a great sale (July 5-7: oops, it's already July 8). Whatever. Not everything works perfectly!

W tapes up the Webber grill he's picked up. We pack our suitcases and pile into a taxi to meet friends at the college where we'll be teaching in September. Then Cheryl gives us a ride to the airport. (Thanks!)

We make new friends from Bandung while we wait at the gate in Singapore's airport: a pastor and his wife. Instantly, it's like meeting family members. She's received a good report after treatment for breast cancer. Thanks be to God!

Friends in ministry
We have a bumpy but uneventful flight with the same crew that brought us Monday. The counter agent has once again put "Dr K" in the first row with great seats. We are the first on and off the flights and the crew remembers us. Maybe because we're so relaxed when we take off and land? The lady next to me grips the arm rests and then falls asleep for the whole trip.

Stunning 4' arrangement in the hotel lobby
I'm working on Sunday's talk on the way; I finish the outline but it doesn't ring any bells. Some preparation is easier than others.

Our driver meets us at the terminal and helps load the grill and our suitcases. Before long, we're home. We pray with the driver for his mom, who is in hospital.

We get a bit of a late start to our Thursday walk. First, it takes longer than planned to leave our house. The other gals aren't at the meeting place when we arrive. And finally, when we reach the start of the walk at the Grand Hotel Lembang, a few of the participants arrive a half-hour after our meeting time.

One hasn't come yet, but 40 minutes in, we decide it's time to go. We are a block into our walk when the habitual latecomer calls: she's just arrived at the hotel. Can we come back for her?

Patiently waiting for arrivals before the walk

No. We continue on our way. We leave a few 4-6 year-olds behind in the hotel playground with their helpers. Someone told their parents this was going to be an "easy children's walk." Whaaat? The moms come with us but are shocked to think they would have had to lug little kids from the first hill to the last.

Today the older kids are with us: Laura's two (11, 13) gamely tackle the four hills and valleys with us. Another 9-year-old is a bit more cautious but survives. One woman catches an ojek (motorcycle) back to the hotel when the heat and exertion catches up with her at the top of the first hill.
Mariska: fearless leader, urging us onward
"Remember, we have only three hills to go," grins Mariska who leads the walk today. We will conquer about 5 miles of steep trails, hiking on the crest of hills and through the farm fields north of Bandung. We watch farmers trimming and bundling broccoli that will go to market in Jakarta. They save the leaves for cattle fodder.

We tramp up and down jungle paths, clearly marked or where the tall grass obscures the trail. Sometimes it's dry, slippery dust that we dig our poles and soles into.

Between pumpkin and broccoli fields on the crest of
the first hill. We've just come from the valley far below.
Laura's son is thirsty and finishes their bottled water. I can't figure out how to share my hydration pack without letting him suck on the tube (gross, not going to happen!) - so they head off the path to a warung for more bottled water.

Meanwhile the group continues. I stay behind, waiting on the path as the two disappear into a neighborhood to find a shop. There's no way I'd leave the group myself but I figure it would be much worse to lose our houseguests who don't know the area!

"Hmmm, I thought I heard something," says the woman walking at the back of the group (when we are finally found), "but I didn't know it was for us." The "something" is the loud whistle built under my tongue. The women disappear from view without turning around.

Laura shoots us descending a slope
After 5 minutes, Laura and son re-appear, bottled water in hand. Some neighbors point the way the others went and we set off.

With best efforts, I can't spot the paper slips marking the walk and hope the others aren't upset with us. Dozens of sidewalks and trails run off the main street. We reach another car-width road and are pointed towards the hotel by passersby. A block later, we're hailed by our group, who are on the backroads of the neighborhood.

The leaders scold me. "Never ever leave where we lost you," they say. "We will come back for you when we noticed you've disappeared." Good plan. The leaders have backtracked to find us and were getting worried. We're only one valley (of 4) away from the hotel parking lot where we started.

Lessons taken. Pack enough water. Don't stop. (And don't restart if the group is out of sight.)

Looking from the hilltop to the valley we'll descend into
before we climb up the other side..
We cross streams on two more bridges: one is woven bamboo strips that creak underfoot. The other is three boards side-by-side without a railing. Some are braver than others but all make it across. (Bridges 1 and 2 below)

Then we have one more steep slope to climb ... and we're back at the hotel. Voila! Well done, all.

The driver takes us home after noon. With all the detours and stops to rest, we're about an hour behind schedule. We skip lunch with the women: our guests are expecting to work with an organization serving street kids. They don't hear from the organizer so they rest in the afternoon.

A fine group indeed
W and I drive to a Bible study at 4. A new gal joins us as we discuss Jesus' parable of the good seed, sown on various soil (= how we choose to receive the Word of God or reject it. Mark 4) We drive Bridget halfway back to her place to catch the bus home.

W parks the car in the driveway, runs in to get Paul, and the guys go to the Thursday group downtown. I'm so glad to stay in. They're back by 8:30 when I'm almost done writing. Another hour and the pictures are uploaded to the blog. I'm ready for bed!

Read more:
*Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10 ESV

*Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4 ESV

*Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 NEV

*Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 NEV

Moravian Prayer: Father, we rejoice and sing your praise! You are our strength and stay as we seek your blessings and guidance throughout our days. Lord, be with us. Amen.

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